30 More Days of Noir #9: The Walking Target (dir by Edward L. Cahn)

In this 1960 noir, Nick Harbin (Ronald Foster) is a walking target!

That’s because he’s just been released from prison.  As the only survivor of a gang that pulled off a daring payroll robbery, Nick has done his time and he’s ready to get on with his life.  He even got himself an education while he was behind bars.  He’s decided to reform and no longer be the angry criminal that he once was.

But first, there’s a little matter of some money.

Only Nick knows where he buried the loot from the robbery.  Everyone wants it.  The press wants to know because it’ll make a great story.  A nosy detective wants to know because he’s convinced that Nick hasn’t changed his ways.  Susan (Merry Anders), who used to be involved with one of Nick’s criminal associates, wants to know because she’s only in it for the cash.  Susan’s current boyfriend, Dave (Robert Christopher) wants to know because …. well, again, it all comes down to greed.  Greed is also what’s motivating a local gangster to provide backing for Susan and Dave in their quest to find the money.  Dave is even willing to send Susan to seduce Nick.

However, all Nick wants to do is find the money and then split it with Gail (Joan Evans).  Gail is the widow of one of the robbers and Nick wants to do the right thing for her.  Of course, Nick is himself kind of in love with Gail.  Can Nick get the money, find love with Gail, and avoid slipping back into his criminal ways?  It won’t be easy.  Life is never easy when you’re….


Okay, that was a little bit melodramatic on my part but then again, it’s a melodramatic film.  Everyone is constantly plotting and double-crossing.  Appropriately, it all leads to a battle in the desert as modern-day outlaws prove themselves to be no more trustworthy than their vintage ancestors.

The Walking Target is a low-budget noir, one that clocks in at only 70 minutes and which, as a result, doesn’t waste much time when it comes to jumping into its story.  That’s one good thing about these B-movies.  They had neither the budget nor the time for red herrings.  As a result, you pretty much know what you’re going to get before the movies even begins.  The Walking Target features all of the usual tough dialogue and morally ambiguous characters that you would expect to see in a noir.  Merry Anders is an adequate femme fatale, though I do wish that Susan had been a smarter character.  (Nick sees through her way too easily.)  The film opens with the prison’s warden telling Nick that, even though he’s done his time, he’ll always be a no-good crook and that’s the perfect way for a noir to open.  Unfortunately, the film’s cinematography doesn’t really have the right noir look.  There aren’t enough shadows and the film often looks like it could just be an episode of an old TV show.  I guess that’d due to the budget but it really does keep the film from making the transition from being good to being great.

The Walking Target is a diverting-enough film.  I liked Ronald Foster’s uneasy performance as Nick and it was enjoyable to watch everyone plotting and scheming.  The Walking Target is currently available on Prime and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good, if lesser-known, B-noir.

One response to “30 More Days of Noir #9: The Walking Target (dir by Edward L. Cahn)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 11/9/20 — 11/15/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

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