3 Scott Brady Crime Movies

canon city

Canon City (1948): At Colorado State Penitentiary, a group of convicts (including Jeff Corey, Whit Bissell, Stanley Clements) plot their big breakout. They escape on the night of an epic blizzard and scatter; some, like Clements hide out in places they know, but most of the cons invade homes and terrorize the locals. As each is caught or gunned down, the police draw a giant “X” over their mugshot, until one remains: Scott Brady. He’s the decent one, who was trusted to work alone in the prison darkroom, and expected to serve out his time, but reluctantly got involved in the escape. When he busts into a home with a deathly ill little boy, he’s soft enough to let the mother and child go for help, knowing it will likely lead to his capture. The twist(s) that comes from that kindness repaid makes a nice, hopeful and to me, unexpected touch in such a gritty semi-documentary noir. It’s character moments like that, plus the exciting pace and great photography by John Alton that made this so riveting and unique. Writer-director Crane Wilbur starts things off slow, with Reed Hadley doing newsreel-style narration (this was based on real events only a few months old at the time), and almost a half-hour of prep work on the escape plan and the character development, but that all pays off with distinct, compelling individuals to follow through the manhunt and various standoffs (the one on the gorge lift and bridge is stunning).

I loved the strong women in this, one in each home invaded by the convicts, all of whom act coolly and intelligently under pressure, then bravely try to protect their homes and families. There’s a fabulously tense bit where Mabel Paige twice sneaks up on Corey holding a hammer; when he foils her first attempt, she hides the hammer under her apron and offers him an orange instead. Paige and another woman are rewarded with medals, while the grateful mother pleads with the prison warden (played by real warden Roy Best) to consider Brady’s act of kindness.

port

Port of New York (1949) is a good, gritty customs and narcotics procedural in which Brady plays an agent eager to work with seasoned investigator Richard Rober, on the case of a massive heroin shipment imported by classy kingpin Yul Brynner. When Brynner’s girlfriend K.T. Stevens sours on him and the whole smuggling racket, she approaches the agents and promises to give them info. She’s murdered before she talks, but she leaves a clue that leads the Feds to a drug package, which they follow to a junkie nightclub performer (Arthur Blake), who’s persuaded to name a higher up, and so on until they reach Brynner. Determined Agent Brady is killed when he’s discovered working undercover at the pier, which leaves Rober with a personal vendetta against the cartel. Directed by Laslo Benedek, Port has lots of nice shots all over New York City (loved the Penn Station part), familiar faces like William Challee, Neville Brand and John Kellogg, and narration by Chet Huntley, later to be far better known as TV news anchor.

theywere

They Were So Young (1954): Young ladies from around the world are lured into a prostitution/white slavery ring when they answer an ad by a sham modelling agency operating out of Rio. When two of the new girls (Johanna Matz and Ingrid Stenn) try to tell the police about their situation, their “instructors” get violent. The other girls point out that silence is the only way, unless they want to end up like the former student found dead on the beach in the movie’s opening scenes. On Matz’s first night as a model, she was picked out for a good time by Scott Brady, a mining foreman working for Raymond Burr. Brady got drunk and insistent, and Matz broke a bottle over his head, but now, alone and terrified, she thinks Brady is the only one who might help her escape the evil Germans running the agency (Gisela Fackeldey and Gert Frobe). Unaware that Burr is the leader of the ring, Brady makes the mistake of hiding Matz at Burr’s remote villa, and from there our couple flees into the wilderness, and gets separated when Matz is abducted and kept on a riverboat.

This is a mix of fairly graphic violence, gritty and shocking subject matter, with a lot of adventure and a little romance thrown in. Aside from some clunky pacing in the finale, things move fast. Brady is a rugged sweetheart and Matz is innocent enough that you believe she’d be fooled into this mess, but she’s also cautious, quick on the uptake, and a fighter. She refuses to keep quiet despite the threats, and she doesn’t want to be like the girls who have convinced themselves that all the designer clothes and fancy living quarters make up for the degradation. One advises Matz to just tolerate the parade clients until a rich one decides to marry her. At Burr’s place, Brady meets one slave who knows better; she may currently be the favoured lady, she says, but she’ll be disposed of once a younger prettier model comes along.

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9 thoughts on “3 Scott Brady Crime Movies”

  1. I’ll have to check out “They Were So Young”. Can’t believe there’s an old Raymond Burr picture I haven’t seen.

    “Port of New York” and I are old pals. Brady’s demise still stands as the most shocking movie death to me. I kept expecting him to get up. I still am.

    Just watched “Canon City” the other day. Ralph Byrd as a prison guard, and Jeff Corey, Henry Brandon and De Forest Kelley as escapees were a treat, along with Brady’s outstanding work.

    1. re Port, yes, his death was shocking! I too thought he would return or something, but no. I have it on a bargain bin set but I think it’s easy to find online.
      re Canon: yes! I got such a kick out of all the familiar faces, Ralph Byrd especially. Wasn’t that great when they were all trying to stay cool while watching Mabel approach with the hammer? That movie had so many nice shots. The chase on the gorge was something. That’s a real discovery and one I’m sure to watch again.

      This was such a good triple feature, Brady is always fun to watch. Thanks!

  2. A really interesting trio here, Kristina! Gritty, tough crime dramas – my kinda movie.

    I have ‘CANON CITY’ and love it even though it has been some years since I watched it. ‘PORT OF NEW YORK’ has been shown here on TV just once (and for some stupid reason I didn’t record it). Another good one and really tough. When it comes to the violent death of a leading man in a movie, nothing beats what happens to George Murphy in Anthony Mann’s great ‘T-MEN’ surely. I guess you must know that one?

    As for ‘THEY WERE SO YOUNG’, have to confess I have never heard of it. Sounds really good.

    A Scott Brady ‘binge’?? That would be fun.

    1. I was craving some hard crime movies and these sure hit the spot. Another thing about They Were so Young, most of the actors other than the leads were dubbed to English, didn’t bother me. Yes, I’ve seen T-Men, that’s a shocker death for sure. Really liked Canon City! Spare, tough and nice-looking. I have a few of Brady’s westerns and recommends for more so I’ll gather those up in their own group sometime. Thanks!

  3. I can also recommend Crane Wilbur and
    Bryan Foy’s INSIDE THE WALLS OF FOLSOM PRISON.
    There is a prison break in that film too,but it’s set in
    the bad old days where sadistic monster Ted De Corsia
    is the warden. That film’s equally tough and is more about
    prison reform and is well recommended.

    3D fans will be pleased to hear that Wilbur (writer)
    and Foy’s THE MAD MAGICIAN has been announced
    as a 3D Blu Ray from Twilight Time. This was the follow
    up to their wildly successful HOUSE OF WAX.
    THE MAD MAGICIAN is far better than it’s reputation.
    I have yet to go down the 3D TV route,but the goodies
    getting released are very tempting.

    Esoteric note:
    Scott Brady should be arriving at your door
    any day now…on disc I might add.

    1. I got Folsom Prison on tcm and can’t wait to watch that one, good to hear.

      I never saw The Mad Magician, shame on me, counts as a must see!! Speaking of 3D I hope, if I can stay up that late, to see Gog in 3D next week at tcm fest. Scott Brady at my door is fine so long as he hasn’t just escaped from prison! Thanks!

  4. Great to hear INSIDE THE WALLS OF FOLSOM PRISON
    is on your to be watched list.
    I think you will be pretty impressed-the film is a great
    showcase for Warners contract players at the time.
    According to imdb the film inspired Johnny Cash to pen
    his classic “Folsom Prison Blues”.
    Huge Steve Cochran addict;wouldn’t mind him featuring in
    one of your triple bills at some point.
    You are sure to love THE MAD MAGICIAN;not as good as
    HOUSE OF WAX but still great entertainment.
    I’ve seen the film in 3D at a 3D fest but the film plays
    very well flat.

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