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Kansas City Confidential (MGM Film Noir)

81 customer reviews

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(Jul 10, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

John Payne, Coleen Gray. A down-and-out veteran, framed for an armored car robbery and tortured by a corrupt crack-squad of police, sets out to clear his name by discovering who set him up and why. As the web of corruption leads him to Mexico, will he uncover the truth? 1952/b&w/99 min/NR/fullscreen.

Tightly plotted and perfectly cast, Kansas City Confidential is film noir at its finest. An obvious influence on Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, this riveting 99-minute potboiler builds its escalating suspense on the fate of reformed ex-con Joe Rolfe (John Payne), whose floral delivery truck matches a duplicate truck used in a Kansas City bank heist. Joe's been randomly framed by disgruntled, double-crossing ex-cop Tim Foster (Preston Foster) who masterminded the robbery, and in an effort to clear his name, Joe follows a trail of suspicion to a Mexican hideaway, where Foster's accomplices (a sublimely hardboiled trio played by Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, and Jack Elam) have gathered to split their $1.2 million haul. Under Phil Karlson's skillful direction, this nerve-twitching scenario unfolds as a clever case of hidden and assumed identities (having worn masks during the heist and getaway, none of the robbers knows the others' identities), and Payne gives a smart, sweaty-browed performance as a hard-luck case who finds time for romance with Foster's daughter (Coleen Gray) as he struggles to turn his fate around. For noir lovers, this movie's pure bliss as Brand, Van Cleef, and especially Elam fill the screen with slimy greed and infectious mistrust. As an iconic example of gritty film noir, Kansas City Confidential remains exciting, unpredictable, and thoroughly entertaining. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef
  • Directors: Phil Karlson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Mono), French (Mono), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,108 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kansas City Confidential (MGM Film Noir)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Erik Rupp VINE VOICE on June 3, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For years Kansas City Confidential has languished in the Public Domain Hell. Released in a woefully substandard version from Alpha (watch the video wiggle at the bottom of the screen every 10 seconds), and a much better, but still flawed version from Image (the picure is just a bit too dark and has some minor print damage), along with several "dollar" DVD versions that were even more flawed than the Alpha and Image releases, Kansas City Confidential was a movie that most Film Noir fans thought would never see an "official" DVD release by MGM (owner of the master print, and - presumably - the negatives).

But here it is - MGM is actually releasing (or has released, depending on when you read this) the "official" DVD for this fantastic Film Noir. Based on their track record of releasing official versions of movies previously relegated to public domain releases (see He Walked By Night as an example - MGM's DVD is flawless!), this should see a drastic improvement in both image and sound quality over all of the previous versions released to date.

The movie itself is tightly written, well acted (John Payne is fantastic, and the supporting cast of Preson Foster, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Jack Elam, and Coleen Gray are all near perfect in their roles), and extremely well directed by Phil Karlson.

This is a classic crime/wrong man framed and sets out for revenge movie. For fans of Film Noir this is truly a, "Must Have," DVD.

Update - The DVD is, as expected, a HUGE improvement over the Image release, which istself is much better than the Alpha version. MGM/Fox have done a very nice job on the quality of this release - the print used is excellent. Even if you already have a previous version of Kansas City Confidential you still may want to get this one for the much improved picture and sound.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on October 17, 2004
Format: DVD
Nobody played the accused innocent any better than John Payne. Tall and good looking, Payne exuded a quiet moral strength combined with an ability and willingness to mess it up with the bad boys whenever the situation dictated. An Eagle Scout with a merit badge in bar brawling.

KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL is a smart little crime drama that features Payne as the unluckiest of flower delivery drivers in motion picture history. It seems that Mr. Big, bad guy Preston Foster, has been meticulously plotting a bank heist, and an integral part of his plan involves using an exact duplicate of Payne's truck as the getaway vehicle. Nothing personal, John. The bad guys don't even know you.

Mr. Big has recruited three thugs (Jack Elam, Lee van Cleef, and Neville Brand) to pull off the heist, taking the precaution of insisting they always wear masks while in each other's presence. That way, if things go wrong, nobody will know who his accomplices are. For a good part of this movie the only one who has anything going wrong is poor John Payne, who is promptly fingered as one of the bank robbers. In this movie, Payne seemingly can't walk into a room without getting pounded by some burly cop or surly con.

KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL is briskly paced and offers enough small surprises to keep us on our toes. Phil Karlson was a great director, under-appreciated in his time and relegated almost exclusively to B-movie duties. KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL is one of his best. Strongly recommended.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 29, 2005
Format: DVD
"Kansas City Confidential" opens with the declaration that it is about a hypothetical "perfect crime" that has never existed in the history of any law enforcement agency. The crime is a $1.2 million dollar bank heist orchestrated by Tim Foster (Preston Foster), a disgruntled ex-cop forced into retirement. Foster bullies three hoods into doing the job, using their criminal records against them and promising an equal split of the dough. Pete Harris (Jack Elam), Tony Romano (Lee Van Cleef), Boyd Kane (Neville Brand), and Foster hold up security guards as they transfer money to an armored car. Foster has insisted that everyone wear masks at all times so that his 3 accomplices cannot identify one another, making them "cop-proof and stool pigeon-proof". After the job, they go separate ways to await the pay-off. Meanwhile, the police pick up Joe Rolfe (John Payne), the driver of a florist delivery truck that looks like the crooks' getaway truck, and accuse him of the crime. Unable to beat a confession out of Rolfe, the police are compelled to release him, leaving Joe Rolfe angry, without a job, and hell-bent on finding out who framed him.

John Payne reminds me very much of Jimmy Stewart in this role. Although he was a lesser star than Stewart, Payne shares Stewart's versatility and ability to be a sympathetic, idealized everyman, but edgy and a little dangerous at the same time. Joe Rolfe is a good guy, but he's angry, frustrated, and fully capable of matching his enemies' ferocity. Neville Brand plays a thug, as he always did, in direct opposition to his real-life stature as a World War II hero, for which he was decorated 10 times. "Kansas City Confidential"'s most striking quality is its archetypally film noir fatalism.
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