On a stormy night two men board a plane heading for Panama but when it lands only one remains as the other has for some unknown reason jumped to his inevitable death. The man who landed decides to hire Dan Hammer (Pat O'Brien) as protection as he is convinced someone is after him and he is not wrong as the man who jumped to his death had a map showing the location of an unclaimed oil field in Peru. Before long Dan finds himself hired by the oil company to find the map which brings him in to contact with Eric Molinar (Walter Slezak) who is also after it and not afraid to get rough in order to get it. With the help of his driver and night club singer Maxine (Anne Jeffreys) they seek out the missing map.
You're in a room on one side and on the other side are two people who are talking and keep on looking at you yet you can't hear what they are saying. Does it make you curious to find out what they are saying? I say this because that is how the opening few minutes of "Riffraff" leaves you, wanting to know more with a mainly silent scene as these two men board a plane but when it reaches its destination one of them has gone, jumped to their death. And it is a beautifully shot opening, not over styled to the point of being artsy but stylish enough that your expectations are raised as to what is to follow.
Unfortunately whilst what follows is perfectly entertaining it isn't anything overly special and as such isn't overly memorable as we watch Dan hook up with Maxine and start trying to track down this map of the oil field. Maybe that is to do with the tone as whilst not really comedy it has a lightness which doesn't do a good job of demanding your attention or filling you with excitement. It is a case that you sort of stop taking in the detail of the plot and pay more attention to the gorgeous smile of Anne Jeffreys as she makes eyes at Pat O'Brien.
What this all boils down to is that if you enjoy old movies "Riffraff" will entertain but not to the point that you feel like you must watch it again. In truth I doubt you would remember much about it a week or so after watching other than the impressive opening scene.