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DON SIEGEL'S THEATRICAL 'THE LINEUP' STARRING ELI WALLACH

Eli Wallach and Robert Baily Year: 1958 Rating: ****1/2

Brazen and bizarre crime flick beginning with a police investigation of what turns out being heroin smuggled through antiques from a cruise ship, and then focusing on the criminals who collect the stuff: the first fifteen minutes a police procedural based on the television series its named after, also known as SAN FRANCISCO BEAT, a Bay Area DRAGNET from the early part of the sparse Eisenhower decade, in which this edgy theatrical adaptation came out in the hipper/jazzier crest of.

Eli Wallach, as the crazy, insecure and sometimes charming lead thug named Dancer, shipped in from Florida with a tan intact, follows subtle "orders" and etiquette lessons from elder partner Robert Keith, making for a unique and twisted partnership that could be called MY FAIR SOCIOPATH: both (along with "dipso" getaway driver Richard Jaeckel) going from the various oblivious "mules" to either take the hidden heroin, or their lives. Often both. And director Don Siegel keeps the suspense on par with the snappy Noir dialog, and there's even some homoerotic stuff thrown in. Way, way ahead of its time, THE LINEUP exceeds the very limited series it's loosely derived (there's even a Lineup scene in the beginning to attempt retrofitting the title). Thank Don for that... who fought to make this LINEUP his own way: where the cops are but a Greek Chorus for the killers. 

Eli Wallach collecting in THE LINEUP
Eli Wallach looks at The Man in THE LINEUP
Warner Anderson and Emile Meyer as the cops of THE LINEUP
Warner Anderson and Emile Meyer as the cops of THE LINEUP


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