The Law of Contact

Johnny One-Eye (May 5, 1950)

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Gayle Reed in Johnny One-Eye
 

Released on May 5, 1950: Racketeer Martin gets shot by a henchman of his old partner, and on his hunt for revenge meets a little girl and her dog, and convinces the little girl that he is Santa Claus.

Produced by Benedict Bogeaus

Directed by Robert Florey

The Actors: Pat O'Brien (Martin Martin), Wayne Morris (Dane Cory ), Dolores Moran (Lily White), Gayle Reed (Elsie White), Donald Woods (Vet), Barton Hepburn (Cory's henchman),Raymond Largay (Lawbooks), Lawrence Cregar (Ambrose), Forrest Taylor (man on street who quotes Lord Byron), Lester Allen (designer/choreographer), Jimmy Little (Captain of the Police), Jack Overman (Lippy, Lily and Elsie's bodyguard), Lyle Talbot (Official from the District Attorney's office), Harry Bronson (cute Freddy), James Anderson (apartment house switchboard operator), Davison Clark (stage doorman), John Doucette (Police Detective), Milton Kibbee (the landlord), Gail Langford (bit part), Steve Pendleton (Police Detective), Suzanne Ridgway (chorus girl)

 
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The Night Santa Claus Died

This movie is a Damon Runyon big city tale about gangsters, the women they love, and the coppers that pursue them . . . and a little girl and her dog. Martin and Cory are a couple of hoods that have a third person, the Dutchman, helping them with a racket. The Dutchman was going to keep all of their money instead of splitting with Martin and Cory, but they find him on a Hudson River ferry, and Cory kills him, and they take their money. Fast forward a few years and we discover that Martin is now an influential legitimate businessman, and Cory is a bigger gangster, with a burlesque dancer girlfriend. Cory is financing a Broadway play for his girlfriend Lily to lift her from the burlesque into the legitimate theater.

As Martin (Pat O'Brien) is preparing to host some important businessmen for dinner in his penthouse apartment, some police detectives arrive to question and possibly arrest Martin. The doorman calls him and warns him that the police are on the way up, and Martin quickly escapes via the laundry chute. Later he meets 'Lawbooks,' his attorney in the park, and is informed that the prosecutor is putting pressure on Cory and his rackets, so Cory has arranged for immunity by offering Martin to them as the killer of the Dutchman several years earlier. Angered at the attempted frame, Martin finds Cory at the Broadway Theater where they are rehearsing for Lily's new show. When Cory hears that Martin is there to talk to him, he tells his henchman to go out to the back alley and go around and cover him, just in case Martin gets violent. After Martin and Cory exchange heated words on the sidewalk in front of the theater, Cory's henchman shoots Martin in the shoulder, and Martin turns and kills the henchman, then staggers away.

Wounded and no where to go, Martin bribes the stage doorman at the theater into telling him where Lily lives, and Martin heads to Greenwich Village hoping that he will find Cory when he visits Lily. Next to Lily's apartment building is an abandoned old home that is scheduled to be torn down to make way for a new, ultra-modern apartment building. Martin finds refuge in the deserted building as he suffers from his shoulder wound. Meanwile, inside Lily's apartment, Cory is displaying his dislike of Lily's young daughter Elsie and her little dog, Skipper. When the dog barks at Cory's heel, Cory grabs the dog and angrily tosses it out the door as Lily's young daughter watches and cries quietly from her bedroom door. The dog makes its way to the street, and seeing Martin enter the deserted building, the little dog follows him into the building, and they become fast friends. The dog now has a bum right eye, so Martin names him "Johnny, Johnny One-Eye."

Lily's little girl finds her dog and Martin the next day in the abandoned building, and she is happy that there is someone to care for her dog, as she cannot take her dog back home, because of Cory. Martin tells her that he is 'Santa Clause', and he came down from the North Pole just to care for the little dog. Elsie believes him, and promises to keep his presence in the old house a secret. The next day Martin walks down the street with his new buddy 'Johnny One-Eye' and he finds a pet store with a doctor, who tells him that the dog cannot be cured, and should be put to sleep. Martin gets offended at this and leaves with the little dog, but the doctor stops them, and says that he knows the look of a man who's been shot, because of his experience in the war, and Martin has that look. The doctor removes the bullet from Martin's shoulder, and Martin goes back on the hunt for Cory.

The classic film noir gangster finalé comes when Martin learns that the little girl knows Cory, and that Cory will be visiting soon. Then things get really messed up as the little girl learns that Martin is really a criminal, and Cory finds out that Martin is hiding in the abandoned building next door. There is a suspenseful meeting of Cory, Lily, Elsie, Johnny One-Eye, the police, and soft-hearted gangster Martin . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Dolores Moran
Dolores Moran
Gayle Reed
Gayle Reed
Gayle Reed meets Pat O'Brien
Gayle Reed meets Pat O'Brien
Gayle Reed
Gayle Reed
Lawrence Cregar
Lawrence Cregar
Pat O'Brien and Lawrence Cregar
Pat O'Brien and Lawrence Cregar
Pat O'Brien
Pat O'Brien
Steve Pendleton and John Doucette
Steve Pendleton and John Doucette
Wayne Morris and Dolores Moran
Wayne Morris and Dolores Moran