Portland Exposé is a low-budget 1957 noir from the Allied Artists off-shoot of Monogram Pictures. It’s included in the first of VCI’s excellent Forgotten Noir boxed sets.
Portland Exposé deals with organised crime involving the Teamsters’ Union. This was a subject much in the news at the time and this notoriety was something that producer Lindsley Parsons hoped would help the movie at the box office. His instinct was correct and the movie, made on a budget of less than $200,000, performed quite well commercially.
George Madison (Edward Binns) runs the Woodland Tavern with his wife Clara (Virginia Gregg). George has been persuaded to install pinball machines in the tavern. He’s not too thrilled by the idea, believing that pinball machines are a step on the road that leads to gambling, vice and social disintegration. He now finds himself under pressure from Teamsters’ Union mobsters to install more machines, along with slot machines.
George has however gathered quite a lot of evidence. Now he just needs to stay alive, but soon he has other problems when the creepiest of the bad guys (played by Frank Gorshin) tries to rape his daughter Ruth, and Ruth later gets menaced by a maniacal hoodlum with a bottle of acid.
Unfortunately, while the intentions were good the execution is not quite so hot. The dialogue is stilted and the acting is a bit on the wooden side. Frank Gorshin provides the acting highlights with a chilling performance as a particularly nasty thug with a taste for young girls. Joseph Marr is also excellent as a psycho heavy.
Director Harold D. Schuster helmed the rather good 1954 noir Loophole. Considering the limited budget and tight shooting schedule for Portland Exposé he does a fairly solid job.
Stylistically this is not a particularly noirish movie. There are a few night scenes but they don’t have the genuine noir feel.
Portland Exposé is by no means a great movie, it’s not even a very good movie, but its fairly unflinching (by the standards of the day) portrait of the effects of corruption and gangsterism make it worth a look, and give it a certain noir flavour. The Forgotten Noir boxed set can be very highly recommended, and if you buy the set there’s no reason not to give Portland Exposé a spin.