Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the British crime noir Man Bait (in England The Last Page).
Man Bait, starring George Brent, Diana Dors, Hammer Film Collections, 1952
Sometimes the title of a crime noir will intrigue you, like The Postman Always Rings Twice, sometimes like this 1950s British crime noir under review, Man Bait (or another recently reviewed 1950s British noir, Bad Blonde), apparently the titles are mere happenstance. Either way this one is kind of, well, sleepy. Sleepy for the plot, and sleepy for action. Definitely a B-noir, very B.
Here is why. A low down grafter, Peter Hart, tries to steal a rare book out of a bookstore and is caught by an employee, Ruby Bruce (played by a young, and, yes, fetching Diana Dors). Instead of turning him in (making for a very short film) she gets into his slimy clutches (nice right) and makes her use her sexual prowess and position in the bookstore to “mark” (one would not realize such things went on such a quaint locale) the emotionally distraught bookstore owner (played by a very un-distraught appearing George Brent).
Now Peter is strictly a con man, no rough stuff, but one night when the pair are divvying up the loot provided by their scam old Ruby takes exception to the split and Peter bops her. Dead. Our boy Peter is no fall guy though and he sets up the “mark,” that self-same distraught bookstore owner for Ruby’s death. No way, no way in hell, distraught or not, is our heroic bookstore taking the fall. But guess who is.