Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Wayne, Frances Dee, Edward Ellis, Wallace Ford, Ward Bond, Harold Huber, Alexander Granach, Barnett Parker, Edwin Stanley, Harry Hayden, Tim Ryan, Russell Hicks, Pierre Watkin, Ferris Taylor
Written by: Tom Kilpatrick, Isabel Dawn, based on a story by Jack Moffitt
Directed by: John H. Auer
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English
Running Time: 82
Date: 26/03/2013

A Man Betrayed (1941)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Chilling Inferno

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Former Hungarian child actor John H. Auer came to America and became one of the best unsung directors of "B" movies. Working for Republic Pictures, he made this interesting little political drama with John Wayne, who had just broken out of "B" movie purgatory himself.

He plays Lynn Hollister, a small town lawyer who ventures to the big city to investigate a death. A hometown basketball hero keeled over after visiting a big city nightclub, Club Inferno. A crafty political kingpin Tom Cameron (Edward Ellis) quickly covers up the death and uses his press connections to label it as a suicide. Hollister intends to get to the bottom of things. Cameron's pretty daughter, Sabra (Frances Dee), volunteers to get Hollister out of town, but of course Hollister isn't as much of a hayseed as he looks, and Sabra starts to develop feelings for him.

Wayne's frequent co-star Ward Bond plays a dimwitted thug, barely aware of his own strength.

Aside from the slight miscasting of Wayne, Auer creates a vivid portrait of a big city and its grimy corruption, leaking out from cracks between the glamour. The scenes inside the club feature some interesting juxtapositions, such as Wayne firing a gun into the din and no one noticing. Other scenes are oddly played for humor, as when Wayne rescues Sabra from an illegal voting site.

Olive Films released the DVD and Blu-ray in 2013.

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