Directed By: George Sherman
Starring: John Payne, Dan Duryea, Shelley Winters, Joan Caulfield, Richard Rober
Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
Silky (Dan Duryea) the leader of a ring of con-artists which also includes Rick (John Payne) finds rich suckers to invest in phony projects, collect the money and split. Rick is tasked with conning a war-window named Deb (Joan Caulfield) into funding a war memorial in the memory of her late husband. But, the more he gets to know Deb the deeper in love with her he falls. Complicating things is Silkys girlfriend Tory (Shelley Winters) who is madly in love with Rick.
I had actually never heard of Larceny which was produced in the height of the film-noir movement. Though it may not be as polished as Double Indemnity (1944) or as quietly subversive as The Prowler (1951) it's a wildly entertaining little film. Director George Sherman crafts a fairly brisk, compelling and engaging noir which is filled with bad-romances, wrong women and crocked heels. The dialogue is for the most part whip-smart and crackles with dry-wit. The pacing is excellent and the narrative is lean and doesn't work harder than it has to. Though I will say that the script could have used another draft but overall is very solid.
The cast is terrific with noir-mainstay Dan Duryea great as always. John Payne is the lead and I honestly think he's one of the more underrated actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Payne has a kind of stoic nature that makes me tailor made for noir. Much like Payne Joan Caulfield is an actor that is great in films but sadly her career never really went anywhere. I think she does a fine job at breaking the mold of the typical 'good girl' in a noir. But, its of course Shelley Winters who should be arrested since she steals every scene she's in. Not only is Winters a fascinating creature to watch but she is given the best dialogue.
Larceny is such a wonderful discovery and I think its one the more underrated from the noir movement. Its far from perfect but it is certainly an enjoyable, well directed and well acted film. If you are looking for some noir thats not the usual suspects give this a chance!
Picture: Larceny is presented in its original 1:37:1 aspect ratio. Making its HD debut Larceny in US and looks solid. The black-and-white has a nice contrasted look and you can certainly tell that the image is brighter with locales, sets and costumes retaining a nice amount of detail. The film does have some artifacts and scratches and some background details tend to get blurring and lose definition. Grain is also a bit on the heavy side. Still, I can't imagine this movie looking better on any previous home video release.
Sound: Larceny has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, score and sound design comes through nicely with no unwanted background noise or hiss. Overall, this has a nice clean sound presentation.
Extras: Larceny includes a fantastic commentary track by historian Eddy Von Mueller. Mueller does a great job at exploring the films themes, cast and its place in the cinematic landscape. Also includes trailers.