The Law of Contact

Three Steps North (1951)

Lloyd Bridges in Three Steps North

Released in 1951: A G.I. in WWII Italy serves time in prison for working the black market, and when he returns to dig up his loot, he gets involved with an old girlfriend, a New York gangster and a murder mystery.

Directed by W. Lee Wilder

The Actors: Lloyd Bridges (Frank Keeler), Lea Padovani (Elena Ravezza), Aldo Fabrizi (Pietro), William Tubbs (Jack Conway), Dino Galvani (Massina), Adriano Ambrogi (Baldori), Gianni Rizzo (the Greek), Peggy Doro (Mrs. Day), Adam Genette (policeman Falzone), Giovanni Fostini (Vince), Roberto Murolo.


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When I was very young, I got a job in a steel plant in McDonald, Ohio, and there was a older Italian man named Vince Martuccio that also worked there, but didn't have a car to get back and forth to work. His house was only a couple of blocks out of my way, and I would pick him up in the morning on the way to work and take him home after work. I still remember his delicious broken-English with an Italian accent. Once in a while when I dropped him off after work he would demand that I come into the hose with him and let him give me a glass of his homemade wine. He had two large barrels in his basement, and he made a new barrel every year. We would drink from one barrel while the other held the new wine. I remember that he would pour a generous water glass half full with his wine, and we would drink and chat until I finished the wine. It is one of my most pleasant memories from my youth.

In 1951 WWII was an ever fading memory, and there were lots of American boys that had served their army time in Italy, so a movie taking them back to those days would be very popular. If you have ever been to Italy, you will really enjoy this movie that displays a lot of the great Italian architecture and the wonderful Italian people and their 1951 customs. Lloyd Bridges plays the part of a soldier that made a lot of money working the black market during the war, and he buried it 'three steps north' of a particular tree. Shortly after he was caught for his black market activites and served 4 years in an army prison. When he got out, his only goal is to return to Italy and dig up the riches that he buried four years before. Ah, but there is a rub to this plot. He borrows money from a fellow who like himself, works on the shady edge of the law. He promises to pay him back handsomly after they get to Italy, but when he arrives in Italy, he discovers that his tree is now in the middle of a cemetary. The local cemetary caretaker is in the way enough that he cannot dig for his riches until after dark. Later, while enjoying supper in a local trattoria the fellow he owes money to for helping him get back to Italy shows up and wants his money. Our fellow hasn't been able to dig for it yet, so they argue a bit and then separate.

Now it gets interesting, because while our fellow is out digging for his loot, the fellow he ows the money to for helping him get to Italy is murdered and robbed. The police know that our fellow had an argument with him earlier in the day, and they think he is the prime suspect for the murder. Now our fellow must uncover the real killer so that he is not jailed again. Add in a mobster from New York, an old girlfriend from the war years, a fat Italian detective following our fellow, and we get a first class murder mystery in the heart of old Italy. Pop a big bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn and put it in a bit Italian spaghetti bowl, and go to 1951 Italy with Lloyd Bridges and help him solve this murder mystery and recover his buried loot.