Allen Baron spent more than 35 years directing series television—everything from The Brady Bunch to Night Gallery to Charlie's Angels to The Dukes of Hazzard—but buried amid the schlock is this cool, edgy 1961 noir feature, shot in black and white on the streets of New York City. As Christmas approaches, a two-bit hood (Baron) agrees to assassinate a low-level mob boss, hoping the payday will spring him from a dead-end existence. With its finger-popping jazz score and beat-inspired interior monologue (in second person, no less), this might seem comical if it weren't so rooted in existential dread. With Larry Tucker (Pagliacci in Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor) as an obese gun runner who fawns over his pet hamsters.
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