A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Johnny Farrell is a gambling cheat who turns straight to work for an unsettling casino owner Ballin Mundson. But things take a turn for Johnny as his alluring ex-lover appears as Mundson's wife, and Mundson's machinations begin to unravel.
Two professional killers invade a small town and kill a gas station attendant, "the Swede," who's expecting them. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case against the orders of his boss, who considers it trivial. Weaving together threads of the Swede's life, Reardon uncovers a complex tale of treachery and crime, all linked with gorgeous, mysterious Kitty Collins. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In-joke: In the scene towards the end of the film where Edmond O'Brien arranges to meet Ava Gardner outside a nightclub, O'Brien stands on the street in front of the club, waiting for Gardner to drive up. On the wall behind him is a poster, beginning with "Sir Arthur Hilton presents..." Arthur Hilton, an Englishman, was the film's editor. See more »
The Police Officer silences his car's siren without ever moving his hands from the steering wheel, or even moving his hands at all. See more »
Using Ernest Hemingway's short story as the foundation for the film, Siodmak and cinematographer Elwood Bredell create a dark, brooding and brilliant looking character study of Ole "The Swede" Andersen (Burt Lancaster), a quiet unassuming man who is hunted and shot by two killers who enter the small town he inhabits. Indeed, the opening shots are textbook examples of how to use shadows and light effectively in film. The central idea behind the short story and Siodmak's film, is the very masculine concept of dignity in the face of death. The fact that "the Swede" apparently knew of his fate but did not try to flee puzzles the insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) assigned to the case. He becomes obsessed with resolving this mystery, and through the testimony of people that had various associations with the dead man, facts start illuminating the gray areas but ultimately end up darkening the reality. Lancaster plays the proud, tough, handsome but intellectually limited Olle "the Swede" Anderson convincingly, and Ava Gardner as the sultry femme fatal never looked better.
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