Robert Montgomery (father of Elizabeth of Bewitched fame) earned his place in film noir heaven with “Ride the Pink Horse”. The “disillusioned, rootless ex-GI” is the ultimate film noir protagonist (though the cynical, hard drinking private eye vies for the distinction) and Lucky Gagin is the apotheosis of the type.
I wish I knew more of the history of this movie’s production as it might explain why Montgomery made it himself (i.e., directed as well as starred) and why copies of it are so hard to find today. Maybe there were financial or copyright problems and Montgomery ended up putting in his own money, despite the Universal Studios credit on the finished film. In any event, of the great film noirs, this is the hardest to find available on DVD or video. I searched for it for years until some kind person copied it in 10 pieces from a Turner Classic Movies broadcast and put it on Youtube (It has since been removed).
It’s gritty, it’s exciting, and Montgomery delivers both as an actor and director. Oscar nominee Thomas Gomez gives the best performance of his career, and Hecht and Lederer, two of Hollywood’s finest screenwriters, are in top form. If you have a chance to see this movie, don’t miss it. And if you find a way to buy a copy, please let us all know.