Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four) (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four)1952

Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four) (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four) Photos

Movie Info

Kansas City Confidential, Phil Karlson's low (low) budget, B-grade film noir, opens on a Kansas City armored-car robbery perpetrated by cynical, corrupt ex-policeman Timothy Foster (Preston S. Foster). Foster devises an outrageous scheme: he will recruit three of the most vicious and unrelenting criminals he can find (screen heavies Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam and Neville Brand) to undertake a robbery, blackmailing them into the heist with incriminating evidence from other "jobs." As an eccentric and clever conceit, Foster forces each of the perpetrators to wear masks, thus concealing their identities from one another and preventing the old pitfall of the men squealing and backstabbing. The heist comes off without a scratch, but a complication arises when the ignorant cops pick up an unrelated fellow, Joe Rolfe (John Payne) for his ownership of a van similar to the one used in the caper. In time, Rolfe is cleared, but he grows irate over the accusations and sets off to find Foster and co. and teach them a lesson. He finally happens upon one of the perpetrators in Mexico, beats him nearly to death, and assumes the victim's identity - and that's when things really get complicated. Though produced under the Hays Code censorship regulations, Kansas City Confidential constituted one of the most brutal and violent crime pictures made up through that time; as such, it retains historical significance. It also claims a strong cult following.

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John Payne
as Joe Rolfe
Coleen Gray
as Helen Foster
Preston S. Foster
as Timothy Foster
Lee Van Cleef
as Tony Romano
Dona Drake
as Teresa
Jack Elam
as Harris
Ted Ryan
as Morelli
Vivi Janiss
as Mr. Rogers
Helen Kleeb
as Mrs. Crane
Kay Wiley
as Woman
Harry Hines
as News Vendor
Al Hill
as Shooter
Sam Scar
as Player
Joey Ray
as Houseman
Paul Hogan
as Bouncer
Ric Roman
as Brother
Sam Pierce
as Workman
Edward Coch
as Airline Clerk
William Haade
as Detective Barney
Charles Cane
as Detective Mullins
Ray Bennett
as Prisoner
Joe Ray
as Houseman
Carleton Young
as Assistant District Atty. Martin
Phil Tead
as Collins
Lee Phelps
as Jailer
Archie Twitchell
as Police Dispatcher
Don House
as Policeman
Jack Shea
as Policeman
Tom Dillon
as Policeman
Tom Greenway
as Policeman
Paul Fierro
as Paul Garcia
Charles Sherlock
as Stickman #1
Frank J. Scannell
as Stickman #4
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Critic Reviews for Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (2)

Falls into that rarefied early-'50s cycle of noir, which benefited from B directors who had learned how to quickly dispense with the genre conventions and deliver brutal action and lurid innuendos.

July 23, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Phil Karlson's rote heist-revenge flick aims to be stone cold, but can't seem to get any frost to grow around its warm, mushy heart.

May 1, 2006

A down and dirty film noir with all the requisite blood, sweat and double-crosses.

February 19, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

It tells a story without gimmicks or short cuts, and all the people involved -- director Karleson, actors Elam, Van Cleef, Brand -- were not only concerned with the best way to express the material on hand but obviously enjoying themselves.

November 24, 2020 | Full Review…

While George Bruce and Harry Essex's screenplay busts into a rushed showdown followed by a pat resolution, this cascade of meaty characters waiting for a reckoning on Mexican resort plays like the sober version of John Huston's Key Largo.

October 13, 2020 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Terse and tough, Kansas City Confidential is one of the great lean, mean B crime thrillers, with a bang-up opening, a deadly payoff and a shifting set of identities and alliances that keep pulling the rug from under our hero.

January 4, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four)


A perfect crime needs a perfect fall guy and, after 3 beatings by police questioners, this fall guy goes looking for the guys that set him up. There's plenty of gunplay and fisticuffs in this tough story about tough guys in a tough world, lots of tension, twists and turns, but it's worth it by the end.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Good but not great noir has a decent story and fine acting but could have been a little more tightly directed. Still if you're a fan of the genre this is an entry to watch.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


In spite of it's faults (campy dialog, boneheaded criminals, cheesy ending, etc.) Kansas City Confidential is still a keystone in the evolution of the classic heist film. Essential viewing for fans of the genre.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four) Quotes

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