No Questions Asked (1951) Harold F. Kress a

No Questions posterage

“No Questions Asked” opened in the late summer of 1951 to mostly seen it all before reviews. The film stars Barry Sullivan, as Steve Kiever, an insurance company lawyer who finds that working for a corporation can be a slow path on the road to success. His beautiful girlfriend Ellen (Arlene Dahl), has expensive taste is just returning from a trip.  Steve is ready to put a ring on her finger and settle down to a blissful married life. Only problem is he does not have any money.

After being turned down for an increase, Steve learns from his boss that the company is willing to make any kind of a deal to get some recently stolen furs back with no questions asked (this would be cheaper than paying out on the policy). As a man who is motivated to climb the corporate ladder, Steve comes up with a plan and starts to make connections within the underworld, arranging a deal. The insurance company will pay ten thousand dollars for the return of the stolen furs with no question asked. For Steve, the company will give him a two thousand five hundred dollar bonus for arranging the exchange. With the bonus from the company, Steve buys a ring and goes over to Ellen’s apartment ready to pop the big question, only she’s gone. Packed up her bags, got married to a man she met on her trip and went off to Europe.

Steve continues to broker deals between the mob and the insurance company for other stolen property. He is oblivious as to who is doing the actual robberies; he does not want to know. All he does is make the connections. In the process making himself a fistful of dollars, enough to open up his own law office and move into a swanky penthouse apartment with a new girl, Joan (Jean Hagen) a former co-worker at the insurance company who has had a crush on him.cuvvb1txm59tt1mv

For a while, life is good for Steve, though the police are monitoring him. While he is not doing anything illegal, crime statistics have gone up because the underworld now realizes they can steal goods, call on Steve who will negotiate a financially satisfying deal for them to return the stolen items, no questions asked. They no longer have to worry about fencing stolen property. It all goes down smoothly until Ellen and her husband return from overseas. The ending turns out to be pretty standard stuff, the double crossers get their due, Steve manages to survive and find true love with Joan, all with a production code approving crime does not pay finale.

Barry Sullivan is stoic as Steve, and for some reason reminded me of David Janssen. He is good though somewhat uninspired in the role.  Arlene Dahl as Ellen, the double crossing first love who aspires to a rich life style is down right dull, managing to look good but that is about all. Part of this is due to a script that really does not bring out the danger of her character. The acting highlights, as they are, belong to Jean Hagen who gives a good performance as the caring former co-worker, Joan who has waited a long time for Steve to finally, realize she was the one.

The script, written by Sidney Sheldon, who also wrote quite a few screenplays before becoming a best selling author. Harold F. Kress, best known as a film editor of such films as “East Side, West Side”, “How the West Was Won, The Teahouse of the August Moon, “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno” among many others, directed the film.

The film does have some nice noirish qualities, with some sleazy like locations and dimly lit streets, though this NYC is definitely located on an MGM back lot.  “No Questions Asked” gets a recommendation to watch, though the question remains open if you would want to revisit.

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4 comments on “No Questions Asked (1951) Harold F. Kress a

  1. Sam Juliano says:

    Well John, I’ll admit I am getting a crash course these past few weeks on films that I’ve never negotiated. It’s understood of course that a good number of them are being cautiously recommended, as is the case here, but it’s great that someone’s driving off the major highway. Ms. Dahl has delivered some great performances, but with the so-so script you acknowledge here, it’s no wonder she’s undistinguished. Of course, Jean Hagen is always a special treat.

    What you admit is lacking in the script is at least redeamed by the noirish feel of the film with the dim NYC streets as part of the mix. As always, an astute examination of a film that few have written about.

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    • John Greco says:

      Sam – It is a result of going DVR crazy. TCM has been showing quite a few little seem films like this one and, “Cause for Alarm”, “Dial 1119” and some early Joan Blondell works. Some I am sure I will write about. Next up is “The Clay Pigeon” a b-Noir from Richard Fleischer. Arlene Dahl was terrific in “Slightly Scarlett”, a film I would like to see again. That is part of what made this diappointing.

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  2. Dave says:

    John – I have this one on my DVR as well and will hopefully have the time to get to it in the near future. Some of these minor noirs may not be great, but I love it when they pop up on TCM because otherwise I’m fairly certain I would never get the chance to see them… so I DVR and then record them as much as possible! Great work here and if I get the chance/time to watch this one in the near future, I’ll post my thoughts in here.

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    • John Greco says:

      Dave – I feel the same way. When these films pop up, they are like rare little nuggets and you never know which will turn out to be gold.

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