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The Curator of Schlock #154 by Jeff Shuster

The Killer That Stalked New York

It’s a 79-minute PSA for smallpox vaccinations.

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Okay. So I got this DVD box set called Bad Girls of Film Noir, Volume 1. I figure it’s about time I curated some film noir at this Museum of Schlock. What is film noir you may ask? Well, it’s movies about bad people doing bad things to other bad people and everyone ends up miserable at the end. This set comes with four films: The Killer That Stalked New York, Two of a Kind, Bad for Each Other, and The Glass Wall

I go through each one of these before the month is out so consider this month September Noir. If you stick Noir at the end of anything, it just sounds better. Warm Apple Crisp Noir. Inflatable Air Mattress Noir. Rollover Minutes Noir.

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Time to get down to brass tacks. So there’s this diamond smuggler named Sheila Bennet (Evelyn Keyes) who’s being followed by a “T-man on the make.” Yes, we have a genuine New Yorker narrating the plot to us as the movie starts, giving the audience all the nitty gritty details such as Sheila is a killer, but doesn’t know it yet.  Also, phone calls only cost a nickel back in 1947. Anyway, the big faced T-man on the make wants to arrest Sheila for diamond smuggling, but all he does is follow her to some seedy motel.

Oh, and Sheila isn’t feeling too well. It seems she caught something while she was in Cuba and that something is smallpox! The bellhop offers to take her to a local doctor in exchange for a ten spot. She ends up at a family clinic and passes the small pox on to a sweet, little girl.

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The doc can’t tell she has smallpox, so he just gives her energy medicine and out the door she goes. Sheila decides to mail the diamonds to her husband, Matt, who is having an affair with Sheila’s sister. When Matt (Charles Korvin) gets the diamonds, he tries to fence them, but the local jeweler says he won’t take them for ten days because they’re too hot. Matt finds out from the jeweler that the feds are on to Sheila so he doesn’t return to their apartment.

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Meanwhile, there seems to be an outbreak of smallpox occurring in New York City. The authorities start vaccinating everyone in the city in an effort to stop the disease. This is where the movie metamorphosizes into a PSA for getting vaccinated. The narrator states how trendy it is to get “the big scratch.” Sheila goes wondering about the city, waiting for her husband to show back up at the jeweler’s. The feds figure out she’s the smallpox carrier and are desperate to find her

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Matt returns to Jeweler for the money, but he beats the jeweler to death with a club when the jeweler tries shorting him on the diamonds. Sheila arrives right after, sweaty and covered with boils. Matt falls off a ledge, cracking his head on another ledge before hitting the sidewalk. Sheila dies of smallpox. So does the little girl she gave it too. The mother cusses the doctor out. Happy story.

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Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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