Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Bunco Squad (1950)
*** out of 5
This short, quick-paced film has great momentum, but contains many elements that were not made the most of- including the under-used Dante, a real-life magician who plays essentially himself, as a retired magician dedicated to debunking spiritualists as cons, much in the mold of the more well-know Harry Houdini. Character actress Elizabeth Risdon also appeara, in a more serious part here than she usually played, as an elderly woman being conned out of her money by a circle of fake palm readers and spiritualists.
I recently got to see an original poster for this film at an exhibition put on by Susqehanna University graphic design professor Mark Fertig, who runs the blog wheredangerlives.blogspot.com and recently published the terrific book Film Noir 101: Film Noir posters from the 1940's to 1950's. Noir expert Eddie Muller was there to give an illuminating talk, and when we arrived upon this poster, mentioned an effort underway to restore the film. While it's not exactly a forgotten gem, it's definitely a fun way to pass 67 minutes. If it only was half as awesome as its poster, it'd be a definite classic of the genre.