An ex GI is framed for an armed robbery, put into jail and tortured. When they cannot prove it was him, he goes on a quest to find the culprits and the reasons…he enters into the murky underworld of killers and corrupt policemen. An absolute gem from film noir’s golden era. Joe Rolfe (John Payne) is an ex-con on the road to rehabilitation when he’s framed for a million dollar robbery staged by Tim Foster (Preston S. Foster), a vengeful former cop. By the time he’s finally released for lack of evidence, it’s already too late—his face has been plastered on the front page of the newspaper, he’s been fired from his job, and he’s still healing his wounds from the beating he took down at the police station. Embittered and determined, he sets out to find the real criminals to render justice himself. A trail of clues leads him south to Mexico, and straight into the path of an inconvenient beauty (Coleen Gray) with ties to the ringleader, and some of ugliest bad guys you’d never want to meet (Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Jack Elam). Director Phil Karlsen is responsible for some of the most raw and thrilling crime dramas of the period, including 99 River Street, Hell’s Island and Scandal Sheet. But he really out-does himself with Kansas City Confidential, despite the minimal budget he had to work with. Film noir is often (and half-jokingly) described as “shadows and fog.” But Karlsen’s work exhibited many of the other key characteristics that would go on to define true noir: Tough characters, blunt dialogue, violent realism, and down-on-their-luck anti-heroes at the center of the story. Years later, Karlsen would re-visit some these techniques with “Walking Tall”, probably his best-known (and certainly most commercially-successful) film. But it’s these tense, stylish 50s crime films, and Kansas City Confidential in particular, that continue to exude the most influence on contemporary directors enamored of the noir style of film-making. It also serves to establish Karlsen as one of the masters of the genre, and lends this film its historical significance. Indeed, it is this very plot that provided the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s breakthrough, Reservoir Dogs.