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MAURY DEXTER'S 'HARBOR LIGHTS' FEATURING MIRIAM COLON

Director: Maury Dexter Year of Release: 1963
Director Maury Dexter's only lasting Hollywood fingerprint is having been a permanent assistant producer and sporadic director of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE...

Miriam Colon
But in the early 1960's he turned out a great number of little films with genres ranging from Westerns, Beach comedies, and, as in the case of the very obscure HARBOR LIGHTS, a "New Noir" crime flick starring Kent Taylor, the film begins with a younger man with a similar tiny-mustache that Kent usually dons in Dexter's villainous roles — for instance, the sparse cowboy picture, WALK TALL...

And this is one of those waterfront thrillers in the style of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Or any type of balmy Noir; here taking place/filmed at San Jan, Puerto Rico while not making much use of the exterior location despite the deliciously pulpy title with a dime-novel approach, most of the scenes are handed off from interior locations where guns are drawn, fists fly, last names tossed around, and in this case a treasure that Kent's intrepid pawn, Dan Crown, acts like he knows the whereabouts of despite the fact his brother (the mustached guy in the intro) is as estranged from the family as can be... being dead and all, which got the plot rolling...

Miriam Colon in Harbor Lights RATES: ***1/2
And this is really a gambling picture despite only one quick scene involving Jeff Morrow's lead villain in a hotel casino where most of the interior running-around takes place. But our hero does have to desperately venture into the dusty streets lined with old stucco buildings; and he eventually winds up in an oceanic boat chase...

Colon on Saul
But what makes these HARBOR LIGHTS really shine is Twentieth Century Fox's THUNDER ISLAND Spanish fox Miriam Colon as ingenue Gina Rosario...

Who'd later play Al Pacino's angry mother in SCARFACE and is more recently known within the BREAKING BAD universe as Tuco's soap opera addicted grandma on the first episode of BETTER CALL SAUL. And here, many decades earlier and quite a beauty, she starts out not trusting Taylor but winds up trying to keep him out of harm's way: in particular, from Jeff Morrow's character, simply referred to as Cardinal and who she had some kind of past with...

Pulpy Poster Artwork for the hard-to-find HARBOR LIGHTS
Perhaps she's a former gun moll, though it's never quite explained, fitting nicely with Kent's likewise mysterious anti hero in this extremely  hard-to-find crime programmer that remains intriguing from beginning to end...

And it could have been much longer although the charm of these b-pictures is the short run-time: everything that needs happening happens in the amount of time of a television melodrama, made solely to entertain, liken to Dexter's Dexter's best cinematic features, RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA and AIR PATROL, that this hit-and-miss thriller needed to more closely emulate: remaining one of those rare flicks that hasn't any cult following, or a decent transfer. 
Miriam Colon sticks up Kent Taylor in his dead brother's room in Maury Dexter's Harbor Lights
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