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By Don R. Lewis | June 16, 2008

“Dark Streets,” the newest film by Rachel Samuels, is the type of film I would call eternally frustrating. Boasting a solid cast and an amazing look, the film is a mishmash of film noir, mystery and bluesy big band song and dance numbers that on a surface level play brilliantly. But along the way it seems the filmmakers forgot they were making a movie and not a Broadway play and the result is, well, pretty boring. It actually pains me to say that but for all the outstanding music and an overall foot tapping bombast, the story of “Dark Streets” is where the film falls flat and it just didn’t have to be that way.

In fact rehashing the story can be done in two sentences. Spoiled rich kid Chaz (Mann) is trying to make a go of a new nightclub while getting over his father’s apparent suicide. Chaz discovers that suicide might not have been what happened, and the more Chaz discovers the truth, the more danger he finds himself in. It’s a simple film noir storyline complete with a new icy blonde singer who steals Chaz’s heart but, as such, it’s one we’ve heard a million times. Add to that we really know nothing about Chaz aside from the fact he likes smoking, drinking and banging his showgirls and thus, we don’t care about him. As a result we all end up wandering around some gloomy New Orleans-type town at night awaiting the next great musical number.

And the music is fantastic as are the scenes of rich choreography that owe a little to Busby Berkeley yet still maintain a style and color scheme all their own. Elias Koteas is creepy as ever as a character simply called the Lieutenant while Bijou Phillips and Izabella Miko provide excellent eye candy as well as some sweet musical treats to spice up the dreary interiors of the film. But again, the film plods forward story-wise until finally reaching a typical noir conclusion that feels tacked on, as if the filmmakers realized “oh yeah, this isn’t a music video or string of song and dance numbers… it’s a movie!” If you’re a fan of classic song and dance numbers or big band blues, I still think you’ll enjoy “Dark Streets.” But overall, as a movie, I found myself growing restless in “Dark Streets.”

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