Kansas City Confidential – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

MGM presents Kansas City Confidential. Written by George Bruce and Harry Essex. Story by Harold R. Greene and Rowland Brown. 99 minutes. Not Rated. Originally Released in 1952.

Directed By:

Phil Karlson


John Payne. Joe Rolfe
Coleen Gray. Helen Foster
Preston Foster. Tim Foster
Neville Brand. Boyd Kane
Lee Van Cleef. Tony Romano
Jack Elam. Pete Harris

The Film:

With a plethora of Film Noir films to choose from some times it’s hard to pick the good ones from the bad. One can generally rely on a recognizable name to pick a winner but that leaves out some lesser-known gems. Kansas City Confidential doesn’t have a big name director and the biggest actor is Lee Van Cleef of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly fame. But that doesn’t make this any less spectacular.

Tim Foster (Foster) has the perfect plan for a bank robbery. For a crew he brings in three cons who don’t know each other (this can’t help but bring Reservoir Dogs to mind) and has them wear masks so they can’t rat each other out. To top it off he has the perfect patsy, the driver of a florist truck that’s in the right place at the right time. What Foster didn’t count on was the florist being an ex-con, Joe Rolfe (Payne). After being accused of the crime and roughed up by the cops Rolfe is thrown back on the streets for lack of evidence. Now Rolfe is out for revenge and won’t let anyone or anything stand in his way. Then Foster’s daughter, Helen (Gray) gets caught up in the mix just to confuse things for him more.

This is a fantastic story any Film Noir fan would love. The twists and turns will spin your head and the double and triple cross will leave you wondering who will be left holding the bag (of money that is). As each character slowly begins to put the pieces together the tension rises making for a suspenseful top-notch film. It’s got everything one would want from the genre, double cross, snappy dialog, unexpected turns, in fact the only piece it’s missing is the femme fatale. Coleen Grey plays a beautiful leading lady but is by no means dangerous.

John Payne may have been no Cary Grant but he’s a great leading man and very easy to like. And he’s not the only good talent here. Each of the guys does a superb job. Seeing Van Cleef outside a western is a nice change.

The film is very well shot with some dramatic cinematography yet not going too over the top. In fact that’s why this film works so well, despite all the suspense and double cross the whole film is pretty straightforward. From the characters and story to the dialog and score, every element of this film is thoroughly enjoyable.

Joe takes the fall.

The DVD:

The Video:

The film is presented in full frame 1.33:1. The transfer on this film isn’t perfect but it’s damn near. There is a blemish or two on the screen but nothing that’s too distracting. It’s black and white and the shades of grey are nice and crisp.

The Audio:

The film is presented in Dolby Digital Mono. The sound is actually really good. The music is fitting and not too over the top.


Sadly, this DVD offers nothing as far as extras go.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Kansas City Confidential
(OUT OF 10)






The Inside Pulse
This is a damn good Film Noir gem that’s a exemplary example of the genre. While it might not be a buyer it’s definitely worth renting. Sadly the complete lack of extras lowers the over all score of the DVD.