TWO OF A KIND. Columbia Pictures, 1951. Edmond O’Brien, Lizabeth Scott, Terry Moore, Alexander Knox, Griff Barnett. Co-screenwriters: James Edward Grant, James Gunn, Lawrence Kimble. Director: Henry Levin.

TWO OF A KIND Lizabeth Scott

   I can’t tell you why it took three writers to get this movie made, but I think the results show it. Or at least that was my opinion before I even knew who the screenwriters were, and how many. One of them is James Gunn, the hard-boiled mystery writer, by the way, not the science fiction writer James Gunn.

    “Our” James Gunn has only one major entry in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, that being Deadlier Than the Male (Duell, 1942), which was later the basis of the movie Born to Kill, the one with Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor — you know the one.

   In any case, this movie starts out like gangbusters, with the hauntingly beautiful Lizabeth Scott tracking down — for reasons unknown — an orphan born in the Chicago area by the name of Michael Farrell (Edmond O’Brien). It turns out that she has a pretty good swindle in mind, along with a steadily unscrupulous lawyer, played by Alexander Knox.

   It turns out that a wealthy couple have been trying to find their son who’s been missing since he was three years old. Farrell might be a very good match, except for one small detail. The boy, if he’s still alive, would lack the tip of the little finger on his left hand.

   Luckily they didn’t invent car doors for nothing.

   But if you’re looking for a good solid noir movie, it’s downhill from here. But don’t get me wrong. If you’re looking for a good solid crime story, albeit a semi-softhearted one, built around an even better con game, complicated by an attempted murder and other good features, waste no time in looking further.

TWO OF A KIND Lizabeth Scott

   Edmond O’Brien’s easy mannerisms do him well in ingratiating himself with the missing boy’s parents, to the consternation of the lawyer, who also isn’t terribly pleased with how he also seems to get along very well with Brandy Kirby (the previously mentioned Lizabeth Scott).

   Did I mention that it took all of Brandy Kirby’s feminine wiles to convince Farrell that he really didn’t need that tip of his finger? I should have. The money, running to a share of millions of dollars, wouldn’t have done it, not by itself alone. Being a law-obeying kind of guy myself, I don’t know whether or not I’d go for the combo (Brandy plus the money), but it would be an awfully close call.

   And if you were wondering, the “two of a kind” in the title are Mike Farrell and Brandy Kirby. Terry Moore’s character comes into it for a while — she plays a semi-loopy teen-aged girl who falls for Farrell briefly herself — but this is Lizabeth Scott’s movie all the way, and when she wants something, look out.