AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Kansas City Confidential
Alternate Title: Kansas City 117
Director: Phil Karlson (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Nov 1952
Production Date:   3 Jun--late Jun 1952 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Duration (in mins):   98-99
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Cast:   John Payne (Joe Rolfe)  
    Coleen Gray (Helen Foster)  
    Preston Foster (Tim Foster)  
    Neville Brand (Boyd Kane)  
    Lee Van Cleef (Tony Romano)  
    Jack Elam (Pete Harris)  
    Dona Drake (Teresa)  
    Mario Siletti (Tomaso)  
    Howard Negley ([Scott] Andrews)  
    Carleton G. Young (Martin)  
    Don Orlando (Diaz)  
    Ted Ryan (Morelli)  
    George Wallace (Olson)  
    Vivi Janiss (Mrs. Rogers)  
    Helen Keeb (Mrs. Crane)  
    Archie Twitchell (Policeman)  
    House Peters Jr. (Policeman)  
    Kay Wiley (Well-dressed woman)  
    George Dockstader (Motor cop)  
    Don House (Motor cop)  
    Brick Sullivan (Policeman in squad car)  
    Jack Shea (Policeman in squad car)  
    Tom Dillon (Policeman in squad car)  
    Tom Greenway (Policeman in squad car)  
    Harry Hines (News vendor)  
    Al Hill (Shooter)  
    Mike Lally (Shooter)  
    Charles Sherlock (Stickman)  
    Frank Scannell (Stickman)  
    Charles Sullivan (New player)  
    Jack Del Rio (Mexican dealer)  
    Carlos Rivero (Mexican player)  
    Sam Scar (Player)  
    Barry Brooks (Player)  
    Eddie Foster (Player)  
    Joey Ray (Houseman)  
    Paul Hogan (Lookout bouncer)  
    Paul Dubov (Eddie)  
    Ric Roman (Rick)  
    Sam Pierce (Workman)  
    Eduardo Coch (Airline clerk)  
    William Haade (Detective Barney)  
    Charles Cane (Detective Mullins)  
    Ray Bennett (Prisoner)  
    Paul Fierro (Mexican policeman)  
    Orlando Beltran (Mexican porter)  
    Jeff York (Detective Captain McBride)  
    Phil Tead (Collins)  
    Lee Phelps (Turnkey jailer)  

Summary: For over a week, retired Kansas City police captain Tim Foster watches the Southwest Bank and the flower shop next door to ascertain the timing of each business's delivery trucks. Satisfied that each truck leaves at exactly the same time every day, he then assembles a trio of criminals to help him rob the bank of its deposit: Pete Harris, a gambling addict; Tony Romano, a ladies' man; and Boyd Kane, a cold-blooded killer. Wearing a mask, Foster visits each separately and secures their services by threatening to turn them in to the police. On the day of the robbery, the four men, who also are masked to protect their identities, wait until the flower delivery truck pulls away from the curb, and then pull up in an identical truck. Pretending to be flower deliverers, they rob the armored bank truck of over one million dollars. They then drive the fake flower truck into an unmarked trailer, where Foster informs his crew that they will split the money at a later date, and gives each half of a playing card with which to identify themselves. Meanwhile, the police track and arrest Joe Rolfe, the innocent deliveryman of the real flower truck. They detain Joe, who was briefly jailed years earlier for a gambling problem, and beat him for days to attain a confession. Although they finally find the duplicate flower truck and release Joe, he loses his job and is ostracized. Desperate to locate the thieves himself, Joe turns to Eddie, an old Army buddy whose life he saved in Iwo Jima. Eddie's shady brother Rick informs Joe that Harris, who recently fled to Tijuana, may be involved. Joe travels there and tracks Harris to a local casino and then to his hotel, where he finds a plane ticket and wire from Foster, instructing Harris to go to Borados. Joe beats up Harris, who admits he was involved in the robbery but has no other information, and then accompanies him to the airport. Just before they board the plane to Borados, however, the police arrive and try to arrest Harris for a gambling debt. When he pulls out a gun, they shoot him, and he dies before he can implicate Joe in the crimes. Now traveling as Harris, Joe arrives at the Borados resort and meets Foster's lovely daughter Helen. While Joe identifies Romano and Kane as possible conspirators, Foster, who is also at the resort, tells his old friend, insurance inspector Scott Andrews, that Harris, Romano and Kane have gathered there and may be connected to the bank robbery. Hoping to remove his cohorts and receive a reward, he convinces Andrews that they can nab the thieves together. Joe, meanwhile, drops the ripped playing card in front of Romano, and later catches the thief in his bungalow. Joe beats up Romano, who agrees to act as his partner and wonders whether they can trust Kane. The next day, however, Romano interrupts Joe's talk with Helen and leads him to his bungalow, where Kane beats him up, revealing that he knows Joe is not Harris. Just before Kane can kill him, Helen enters and gives Joe the gun that he dropped earlier. Hoping to protect Helen, Joe then warns her to stay out of his business. That night, each man receives a note instructing him to meet at a boat, where Foster has arranged for Andrews and the police to arrest them. As he leaves for the boat, Helen visits her father and asks him to help "Harris," whom she loves. Foster informs her that "Harris" is an ex-convict, but Helen remains devoted. Foster then follows the three men to the boat. Onboard, Joe persuades Romano, who is holding him at gunpoint, to kill Kane instead in order to get a larger share of the money. Romano does so but then turns his gun on Joe. Foster enters and saves Joe, and though Foster claims to be a policeman, Joe reasons that he must have set up the job because he knows that Joe is not Harris. Joe suddenly pushes Romano, who shoots Foster but then is killed when he and Joe struggle over his gun. Joe revives Foster, who asks him not to tell Helen about his involvement. Andrews then arrives and after Foster states that Joe merely tipped him off about Harris, Joe goes along with the lie in order to save both himself and Foster's reputation. Later, after Andrews informs Helen that her father gave his blessing to her romance, she embraces Joe. 

Production Company: Associated Players and Producers  
Production Text: An Edward Small Production
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Phil Karlson (Dir)
  Ralph Black (Asst dir)
  Gilbert Mandelik (Asst dir)
Writer: George Bruce (Scr)
  Harry Essex (Scr)
  Harold R. Greene (Story)
  Rowland Brown (Story)
Photography: George E. Diskant (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Edward L. Ilou (Art dir)
Film Editor: Buddy Small (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Ray Robinson (Set dec)
  Max Frankel (Props)
Costumes: Joe King (Ward)
Music: Paul Sawtell (Mus)
Sound: Fred Lau (Sd)
Production Misc: Ben Hersh (Prod supv)
  Les Nettenstrom (Asst prod mgr)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Associated Players and Producers 11/11/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP2125

PCA NO: 16082
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
Subjects (Major): Bank robberies
  False accusations
  Fathers and daughters
  Moral reformation
Subjects (Minor): Borados (Mexico)
  Compulsive gamblers
  Kansas City (MO)
  Police brutality
  Tijuana (Mexico)
  Women lawyers
  Wounds and injuries

Note: The working title of this film was Kansas City 117 . A written foreword notes that the story deals with a supposedly "...'perfect crime,' the true solution of which is not entered in any case history, and could well be entitled 'Kansas City Confidential.'" This was the only film made by production company Associated Players and Producers, which was owned by Edward Small, Sam Briskin and Sol Lesser. HR news items note that much of the film was shot on location in Guatemala, Tijuana and Catalina Island in southern California. According to a Feb 1953 HCN article, an entertainer named Tony Romano sued United Artists, Associated Players and Producers, and Small for $600,000 for the "public scorn and ridicule" he suffered after they used his name to portray a "gangster, convicted felon and three-time loser." The disposition of the suit is not known. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   8 Nov 1952.   
Daily Variety   3 Nov 52   p. 3.
Film Daily   14 Nov 52   p. 7.
Hollywood Citizen-News   4 Feb 1953.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 May 52   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 52   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jun 52   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jun 52   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jun 52   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Nov 52   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   15 Nov 52   pp. 1606-07.
New York Times   29 Nov 52   p. 11.
Time   10 Nov 1952.   
Variety   5 Nov 52   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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