I love the Los Angeles River: I loved it long before I knew a thing about film noir and its not infrequent appearance as a movie location. I loved it even before I knew what it was when I saw it as a kid. But that’s me. Anyway, when I read about Roadblock at Film Noir of the Week where the car chase in the river was mentioned, I had to see it. Car chase in the river? If you are asking that, you don’t know noir, and don’t know L.A.
The movie is a simple B-movie that moves along nicely with no real surprises. Honest Joe is a fine insurance detective, whose cleverness, drive, and sharp partner, lead to many nicely solved cases and lots of recovered loot for clients. He falls for a sultry dame in high fashion clothes whom he meets on a plane flight when she pretends to be his wife to avoid using her name. (When the plane is grounded mid-flight by weather, they have to share a hotel room provided by the airline.) She’s into the high life with racketeers, but she likes him and strings him along. Her looks are the kind that might make a straight guy bend the rules, a lot. The sexy, chiseling Diane is played by Joan Dixon, a real knockout. She’s great when she’s being the bad, sexy, material girl, and still good to look at when she inexplicably goes straight, but she doesn’t have much to work with then.
Some favorite scenes:
Hey sister! What’s with the Mrs. Joe Peters business?
I’m not your sister, I’m your wife – at least until we get to Los Angeles. Now buckle your seat belt.
Joe has gone all bad, and Diane wishes he had stuck to the straight and narrow. As he tries to elude his pursuers by detouring into the L.A. River, She asks:
Where does this highway take us?
This isn’t a highway. This is the L.A. River!
The chase makes fine use of the setting in the nearly dry riverbed. (It stays that way for most of the year.) Joe kicks Diane out of the car, literally shoves her onto the pavement, but she is reunited with him after his last futile rebellion against the law and The Law.