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First feature film from director Fred Zinneman is a snappy little "B" feature that features Van Heflin as the head of a city crime lab who solves the murder of the town mayor by analyzing evidence from the crime. Written by
No need to recap the plot. It's a slick, efficient little crime drama from a studio that didn't much care for that B-movie genre (MGM). On one hand, there's no mystery we know the culprit from the outset; neither is there much atmosphere it's microscopes instead of dark streets and shadowy men; while the story itself is pretty shopworn best friends on different sides of the law angling for the same girl. On the plus side, however, are the colorful characters and some nice touches.
Note, for example, how rather unlikable Heflin's criminologist is, always bossing poor Hunt around and slyly demeaning hernot the way a force for good is expected to act. But he's all business even as her confused heart wavers. Hunt is perfect as the educated lab assistant, attractive and perky, without being annoying. And Bowman looks and acts like the charming fixer, even if his Jekyll and Hyde is something of a stretch.
The business with the cigarettes both defines the Heflin-Hunt relationship and adds character color. It's an efficient touch that also has a surprisingly clever payoff. Then there's that jumbo vacuum that sucks the hair off your head and may also be a lethal weapon not found at the local barbershop. All in all, it's a fine cast and an ace director all of whom would soon go on to bigger and better things. Fortunately they left behind this slick little 70-minute diversion.
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