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A Life in the Balance (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 1 July 1955 (USA)
In Mexico City, a working-poor single-father is mistaken for a serial killer by the local cops but the man's son stumbles upon the real killer and tries to warn the police after being abducted.

Directors:

Harry Horner, Rafael Portillo (co-director)

Writers:

Robert Presnell Jr. (screenplay), Leo Townsend (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ricardo Montalban ... Antonio Gómez
Anne Bancroft ... María Ibinia
Lee Marvin ... The Killer
José Pérez José Pérez ... Paco Gómez (as Jose Perez)
Rodolfo Acosta ... Lt. Fernando
Carlos Múzquiz Carlos Múzquiz ... Capt. Saldana (as Carlos Muzquiz)
Jorge Treviño Jorge Treviño ... Sergeant (as Jorge Trevino)
José Torvay ... Andrés Martínez (as Jose Torvay)
Eva Calvo Eva Calvo ... Carla Arlota
Fanny Schiller ... Carmen Martínez
Tamara Garina Tamara Garina ... Doña Lucrecia
Pascual García Peña Pascual García Peña ... Porter (as Pascual G. Pena)
Tony Carbajal Tony Carbajal ... Pedro (as Antonio Carbajal)
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Storyline

Antonio Gomez, a nearly down-and-out musician, is a widower with a young boy, Paco. Fighting to support his boy in the face of unemployment and neighbors who want custody of his son (something that here in Mexico City they might just obtain), Gomez argues with an ex-girlfriend over money she owes him. After he leaves, the girlfriend is murdered by the religious-fanatic serial killer terrorizing the city. When neighbors report the argument Gomez had with the dead girl, the police presume they are finally on the hot trail of the serial killer, and Gomez is their target. Gomez goes out to a pawnshop to buy his son a long-dreamed-of guitar and there meets a young woman with whom he goes looking for his son. What Gomez does not realize is that a police dragnet is closing in on him and that his boy Paco actually witnessed this most recent murder and has been trailing the killer. It's not long, though, before the killer is trailing the boy. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In The Shadow Of The Knife... They Formed A Strange Alliance! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Mexico | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

7 Rue Pigalle See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
Has its moments, but overall mediocre
24 May 2012 | by frankfobSee all my reviews

Lee Marvin is a crazed American serial killer on the loose in Mexico City who kidnaps an 11-year-old boy who is the only witness to his most recent murder. The boy is the son of down-and-out musician Ricardo Montalban, who frantically searches the city for his son and the psychopath who took him, and in the process hooks up with lovely Anne Bancroft. The Mexico City Police Department joins the pair in their hunt. Marvin is quite good for the most part--although he goes over the top on occasion--and Bancroft looks beautiful but doesn't have all that much to do. Montalban, unfortunately, crosses into "ham" on too many occasions, and the ending is trite and pat. Good use of Mexico City locations works in the film's favor, but the less-than-inspired writing, somewhat sloppy direction and Montalban's overacting work against it. Its good points and its bad points more or less cancel either each out, and the end result is that, while the film manages to hold your interest and has some tense moments, it's somewhat overheated and basically pedestrian.

And, contrary to what several posters believe, it is not in any way, shape or form a "film noir" piece.


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