The Las Vegas Story

The Las Vegas Story ★★★½

203rd film of 2021: The Las Vegas Story (Stevenson, 1952) released by RKO in March this is an interesting noir that at times seems to be built on the DNA of Casablanca. There is a piano player Happy (Hoagy Carmichael) who is key to the plot and indeed in the beginning narrates the plot. There is a love story that is more of a love triangle built around a past romance that was unfulfilled as the beautiful singer Linda (Jane Russell) chooses not to wait for her boyfriend Dave Andrews (Victor Mature) who was in the army air corps and about to ship out to the Pacific during WW II. He would watch her sing at the Last Chance a small Vegas bar and casino, but instead of waiting she leaves town and finds a new life in New York and then later in Boston with Lloyd Rollins (Vincent Price) an investment banker. When Rollins gets into a jam as they are crossing the country by train Linda is forced to face off with her past as he suggests they get off the train in Vegas, a place she has worked desperately to forgot. An insurance investigator Hubler (Brad Dexter) also gets off the train following the couple to a nice hotel and casino because he has been tasked with keeping track of a 100,000 dollar diamond necklace. Once she returns to Vegas Linda sees Dan, now a detective for the Clark County Sheriff's office who is often tasked with handling young people who are not of age trying to fool the locals into allowing them to be wed. Linda finds herself dealing with her feelings for Dan and the dangers of her husband's compulsion to gamble for large sums of money that include using the necklace for collateral. The gambling, romance, and necklace leads to the murder of the owner of the Last Chance. The final chase set in the desert involving a car and a helicopter is exciting and builds nicely to the final battle between Dan and the killer.

The chemistry and snappy dialogue delivered by Price, Russell, and Mature also recalls that of Casablanca. Still, there is more of a world weary cynicism in Russell's character and performance that is matched beautifully by Mature. The attraction between these two is palpable throughout the film and unlike in Casblanca where Rick is noble and sacrifices Isla, Dan is more than happy to be reunited with Linda even when it involves arresting her husband.