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Kansas City Confidential

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Kansas City Confidential (1952) starring John Payne, Preston Foster, Coleen Gray
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Kansas City Confidential (1952) starring John Payne, Preston Foster, Coleen Gray

Treachery and betrayal abound when an ex-con is accused of an armored-car robbery in this suspenseful film noir crime drama – Kansas City Confidential


Kansas City Confidential is an excellent film noir that begins with a very unusual bank robbery. First, a masked man, calling himself Mr. Big, recruits three criminals. None of the three know each other, their names, or even what thy look like. They all wear masks when interacting with each other, as well as during the robbery. That way, they can’t rat any of the gang out. After the robbery, he gives each of them a torn playing card of a king. This is to serve as an identifier, for when it’s time to divvy up the money — weeks later. In the meantime, they’re to hide out in foreign countries.

Joe Rolfe has taken the identity of one of the criminal and infiltrates the gang in Kansas City Confidential

However, there’s a monkey wrench thrown into the works. An ex-convict named Joe is wrongly accused of being involved. And the only way for him to clear his name is to find the actual thieves. So, with a tip from an underworld connection, he pursues one of the thieves to South America. And begins unraveling the story, and tracking them down.

John Payne and Lee Van Cleef in the conclusion to Kansas City Confidential

Cast of characters

  • Joe Rolfe (John Payne, Week-end in Havana). The unwilling protagonist of Kansas City Confidential. He’s a former convict, wrongly accused of being involved in the robbery. He’s arrested, beaten by the police and released. But still under suspicion. So he feels that he has no choice but to track down the actual criminals and clear his name.
  • Peter Harris (Jack Elam, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again). the addictive gambler. Mr. Big’s first recruit. He’s also the first criminal that Joe catches up to. He’s shot and killed by the police in Tijuana. Joe takes this opportunity to infiltrate the gang as Harris.
  • Boyd Kane (Neville Brand). He’s wanted for the murder of a police officer. Heavy on brute strength, but not much for planning or thinking ahead.. A gum-chewing thug.
  • Tony Romano (Lee Van Cleef, Pardners). The womanizer. “Buy a souvenir?”
  • Tim Foster, (Preston Foster, You Said a Mouthful) – retired police captain. Forcibly retired, and he’s understandably bitter about it. He’s also the father of:
  • Helen Foster (Coleen Gray, The Leech Woman). She’s an attractive young lady, who’s also very intelligent. Helen’s about to pass the bar and become a lawyer. She’s come to Mexico to visit her father. And she falls in love with Joe. Which doesn’t sit well with her father.

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