Duck Duck Book

41 – portland exposé
01.17.2007, 4:50 pm
Filed under: fiction, films

Portland exposé, in Forgotten noir. Vol. 1, Portland exposé ; They were so young [videorecording] : Kit Parker double features / VCI Entertainment.
[S.l.] : Kit Parker Films : Distributed by VCI Entertainment, [2006]
[MCL call number: DVD Drama FORGOTTE1; nine copies, two holds]

Portland, Oregon, City of Roses, often lauded as one of the nations most livable cities, used to be a kind of Sodom, a nest of crime and vice. Gambling, prostitution rings, press-ganging, protection rackets, corrupt union officials, and machine politics all feature boldly in the city’s past (see, for example, Portland Confidential by Phil Stanford, Portland, Or. : WestWinds Press, c2004). Reforms of the early 20th century are supposed to have done away with the bulk of these ill pursuits and criminal arrangements, but Portland Exposé, a noir-ish B movie filmed on location, aims to show that in 1957, all was not well in the Rose City.

This mediocre drama chronicles the arrival of an organized crime ring, and how their efforts to take over and expand the city’s gambling, liquor distribution, and other small- to medium-time criminal activities affect a family who have just set up business operating a roadside bar and grill on the outskirts of town. Corrupt Teamsters are in league with the evil Johnny-come-lately mobsters, and our upstanding, all-American bar-owner hero stands up to them all with the help of an ousted crime boss, a couple of steadfast newspapermen, a police captain, and an honest union official.

The plot is thin, but the acting and writing are passable, and the film is kind of fascinating just for the background of 50s era Portland infrastructure — throughout the picture, there are several nice wide shots of the city showing downtown and the riverfront, and local landmarks are featured regularly. Stumptown Confidential has some nice screen shots showing various more-or-less recognizable settings in the film, including scenes of one of our warehouse districts, “Portland Towers”, a shot of our hero taking a payoff from a bar owner with the Steel Bridge in the background, and Union Station inside and out. If you have an hour to kill, and you’re wondering how the good citizens of Bridgetown defeated those outside agitators with guts, ingenuity, and collective action, this is the film for you!


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