Mystery In Mexico, 1948. 8/10

A sort of exotic film noir. Set in Mexico, with insurance detective Steve (William Lundigan) finding Victoria Ames (Jacqueline White), the sister of Steve’s missing colleague Glenn Ames (Walter Reed). Rounding things out are nighclub owner John Norcross (Ricardo Cortez), singer Dolores (Jacqueline Dayla), and taxi driver Carlos (Tony Barrett). A detective looking for a detective; sounds like something has already happened, and a bunch of things will happen before too long. The something is a $200,000 necklace; hmm, Glenn, what became of it, huh?

First thing we see is Ames taking the necklace from a hotel safe in Mexico City. He escapes though hallways and onto dark noirish streets as he’s been shot at. Then, back in the States, Steve is charged with tracking down Glenn. The first step is trailing Victoria; somehow the insurance company knows that she’s scooting off to Mexico City, with Steve tailing her.

Steve goes a little overboard chatting up Victoria, but it works; she’s pretty savvy anyway. Strangely, helpers appear as if by magic, notably Carlos. Thinking she’ll find Glenn at the Mexican equivalent of an old dark house, Victoria bumps into Steve instead. Steve is jumped by two guys, who quickly disappear. He tells the police Commandant the whole story of the necklace. Victoria still doesn’t know who Steve is; he keeps playing the romantic angle with her.

He takes her to a hotel. She disappears. Carlos takes him to a swanky club where Victoria is performing. He learns from the bartender that Ames used to work there; He meets Norcross and Dolores. Both Steve and Victoria are invited to a party at Norcross’s. Meanwhile, Steve wants to track down the bartender. But they come across the scene of that guy’s fatal accident.

Now Steve’s paying attention to Dolores. Maybe she knows something about Norcross “there’s something dangerous about him” she hints. But he and Victoria leave the party before Dolores lets on too much. He finally comes clean with Victoria. Carlos is playing a double game; he brings a kid to Victoria with a bloody jacket of Glenn’s. They tell her that he’s still alive, but, of course, they don’t want her to go to the police.

Steve goes to the Commandant, who details a detective to help Steve on the case. Finally, Carlos brings Victoria to Glenn. She want Carlos to let Steve know, but Norcross intercepts the call. Just as Steve gets wise to this, we see the old shadow on the wall…next scene, Steve comes to finding that he, Victoria, and Glenn are being held hostage by Norcross and his guys. Steve tries an elaborate ploy, which buys them some time.

Cleverly, the necklace was hidden in a little girl’s doll. That discovery leads to a general melee, in which the tables are turned on the bad guys. Ok, the expected Victoria and Steve nuptials are in the offing as we close up.

Very well-done film noir. It does drag a bit in the middle; melding the romance to the main plot does take some doing. Still, the three main characters (Steve, Glenn, and Victoria) are drawn closer together as a result of combining the romantic to the criminal plot. The locale brings both a touch of flair and convincing atmosphere. Although Carlos plays an interesting role, it’s obvious from the beginning that he’s up to something.

One persistent theme in film noir is betrayal. Loyalty, then, is prized: the cab driver often is the protagonist’s best buddy. But that element is inverted here; Carlos seems to be the perfect man-for-hire, but he’s really one of the criminals.

Farmermouse made off with the necklace when nobody was looking, so he gives Mystery in Mexico eight dolls. 8/10.

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