Hell’s Half Acre is the red light district in Honolulu in this 1954 noir with a nice helping of sleaze. The good guy isn’t so good – he deserted and is thought to have died at Pearl Harbor. He made a lot of loot with some criminals in a syndicate during the war, but he’s paid them off, and now he wants to stay straight running his thriving tiki joint night club. He has a new identify, but his old partners won’t leave him alone…and then his wife, to whom he was married for three days before shipping out, recognizes his voice on a kitschy luau recording, and comes looking for him to find out what’s what. Elements of The Third Man, but pretty improbable. The slime ball characters make it worthwhile watching.
The wandering wife is drugged and ends up in a strange bed, naked. The drunken slob across from her will make sure she doesn’t try anything funny. She knows who killed the good/bad guy’s girlfriend.
The wife of the drunken slob has a thing for the killer: interracial sex adds spice, but we don’t actually see them kiss. She’s a real piece of work, this dame.
The wife gets her clothes back, but she also gets the attentions of the awakened drunken slob. She can see what he’s thinking, even if she did just wake up from a drugged stupor. Well, Mr. Slob get’s his, shot down by the police in a drainage ditch – another nod to The Third Man?
Well, anything with a drainage theme has got my attention! When she hears the news that slobbo-husband is killed, she’s overjoyed. That marriage wasn’t working.
Bang, bang, bang, filled with holes, hee, hee!
Finally, Mr. Good/Bad guy has to take a lonely walk to the front of his tiki lounge where his killer ex-partner waits to gun him down. It’s certain death, but it has to be that way. The melodramatic cliche is given some zip by the camera work showing the walk from his point of view in slowed down motion. Is he thinking, “This is the last time I will step past these potted palms and crummy looking monster clam shells, not to mention those tiki lights I always hated..?”