Kansas City Confidential ★★★★★

Excuse me while I pick my jaw off of the floor. It was knocked off by a pair of flying fists. Four pairs of fists, to be exact - fists belonging to John Payne, Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef, and Neville Brand. Don't worry, though. I really enjoyed the experience. I don't know what that says about me. Oh well.

The fists start flying when a forced-into-retirement cop (Preston Foster) lures three con men (Elam, Van Cleef, and Brand) into a million dollar bank heist scheme. To keep anyone from turning into a stoolie, Foster stipulates that they all wear masks to keep their identities a secret even from each other. Despite the distrust, the heist goes off without a hitch, and an unsuspecting fall guy, ex-con Joe Rolfe (Payne), is pinned down for it. Rolfe is jailed, interrogated and roughed-up by the police for several days before he is eventually let loose. Let's just say that Rolfe ain't happy about being set up, and he wants answers... NOW. Thanks to a hot tip from an underworld connection, Rolfe sets off to ole Mexico to track down one of the cons involved in the heist, and thus begins a revenge tour de force that hits with "bullet force" and "blackjack fury"!

Kansas City Confidential really is brutal for its time, and research shows that this was the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, so that helps put the vintage violence into perspective. The violence would be nothing without the men throwing the punches, though. John Payne is a real heavy hitter. I've only seen him in Miracle on 34th Street, so seeing him let off the leash was impressive. There certainly isn't any flab underneath his suit. Western greats Jack Elam and Lee Van Cleef impress, as well, which isn't all that shocking. Okay, Van Cleef without facial hair was pretty shocking. Anyways... if you're looking for the perfect crime, then look no further.

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