Sunday, July 5, 2020

Decoy (1946)

Every once in a while a movie will come by that will shock you that you haven't seen it before. I was shocked when I saw Decoy. It didn't have great rating but I usually record noirs playing on TCM and I'm really glad I recorded this one. In reviews people have called it the "lost noir" because of the long period when it wasn't available.

The movie was directed by Jack Bernhard and starred his wife, British actress Jean Gille.  Soon after this movie they divorced and within three years  Gille's died of pneumonia.

The movie opens with a man hitching a ride to San Francisco. He enters a hotel, then a room and shoots a woman. A cop following enters the room and sees the man, who had shot himself, and the woman he had shot. He picks up the woman who says "Hello JoJo". She tells Sgt. Joe Portugal to get her the box. She says "It's all mine now".  We then see in a flashback the story as Margot Shelby tells the story.

Margot's boyfriend Frankie held up an armored car and robbed  $400,000. He then his the money. Margot wants to get the location before Frankie goes to the gas chamber, but he won't tell. Margot seduces gangster Jim Vincent and gets him to help her. 

Magot comes up with a plan. She had read about a chemical called Methylene Blue, that can revive a man executed by gas poisoning. So Margot seduces a doctor, and gets him on board.

So after Frankie is executed Frankie and his men steal the body. Love smitten Doctor Craig administers the antidote. The revived Frankie gives Margot half the map to where the treasure is buried, but keeps the other half of the map.

Once Frankie gives Margot the map, Jim Vincent shoots and kills him again (he probably only lived for 10 minutes this time). Margot kisses Jim and the Doctor Craig walks he in. He knows he's been duped. 

Doctor Craig is hooked in because of what he has done, and he drives Margot and Jim to the where the treasure is. They stop at a diner and Margot lets the air out of a tire. When Jim gets out to fix it, Margot runs him over (in the original uncensored movie she backed up and ran over him twice more). She isn't sharing with anyone. She grabs a gun and the map from Vincent's dead body. She then puts the jack back in the car.

Margot and the doctor go and dig up the box. Margot tells him that all their plans are there in the ground. When Craig digs up the box Margot shoots him and then laughs hysterically. "It's all mine now" she screams. She runs laughing all the way back to the car.

The movie then returns back to the first scene. Margot is dying. The tough cop, Jojo tries to comfort her. Margot says "Jojo please, just this once, come down to my level." Portugal bends down to kiss her and she laughs in his face.

Portugal opens the box. There is the message from Frankie. "To you who double-crossed me... I leave this dollar for your trouble. The rest of the dough, I leave to the worms."

The movie was definitely low budget, and the acting wasn't great, but Margot is one of  the great femme fatales of film noir. She killed two guys, had another killed, and laughed all the way through it.


Sergeant Joe Portugal: [Reading a note from Frankie] To you who double-crossed me... I leave this dollar for your trouble. The rest of the dough, I leave to the worms.

Bartender: Louie asked her how old she was. She said 23.
Sergeant Joe Portugal: If she's 20, I'll eat that glass.

Frank Olins: Nothing comes out of that money, until I take it out myself. Vince will pay for the Doctor.
Jim Vincent: I into you for 60 G's already.
Frank Olins: 60 thousand? For what?
Margot Shelby: Do want an itemized account of what is cost to save your life?

Sergeant Joe Portugal: Don't let the face of yours go to your head.
Margot Shelby: Or to yours?
Sergeant Joe Portugal: It would matter if did... People who use pretty faces like you use yours, don't live very long anyway.

Margot Shelby: Do you remember the first time I came to see you in your office? Your dingy, gloomy office in that dingy dirty street, the rotten smell of the factory chimneys pressing down on the shabby little houses, the slovenly old women, the gray-faced dirty little children starting out with everything against them. I remember that street.
Dr. Craig: Do you love me?
Margot Shelby: Yes, but I can't forget your street. I remember every little thing about it, and if I had never seen it, I still could have described it because that street runs all over the world. I know because that's the street I came from 6000 miles from here in a little English mill town. But it's the same rotten street, the same factories, the same people, and the same little gray-faced children!

Frank Olins: Lay out the dough Vince. You know you'll get it back, soon as I can out of here.
Jim Vincent: No Soap Frankie. You've just been gassed. How do I know what kind of shape you in? Maybe you wouldn't be able to pull through an operation.