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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As Kenyon is reading the story of the robbery in a voice over, the scene shows the gunmen escaping and exchanging shots with the factory guards. The story says the guard was hit in the groin, but as he falls he grabs his shoulder. See more »
How well did you know the Swede?
Me? Mister, I guess me and the Swede were about as close as two guys can get. For nearly two years we weren't more than eight and a half feet apart. That's how big the cell was.
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This film seems to get a lot of love, and to extent, it deserves the acclaim. The first 20 minutes of the film is an adaptation of a famous short story of Hemingway. The film starts with two killers taking over a diner, waiting for a local known as "Swede" (played by Burt Lancaster in a breakthrough role) that they've come to kill. When Swede doesn't show, they leave, and Hemingway's ubiquitous protagonist, Nick Adams, races to the Swede's apartment to warn him.
For the first 20 minutes, the writing is excellent, the dialogue terse, and the viewer is left with a grim view of the coldness of life, which provides moments of sudden danger and incomprehensible actions.
And then Hollywood makes its contribution. Around the gem of a short story, the film makers added a backstory explaining the Swede's actions (or lack thereof) including crime, a femme fatale (played by the gorgeous Ava Gardner), a robbery, and a conflict about stolen money. The larger film is far less interesting. Unfortunately, the film spends most of its time following the actions of an insurance investigator played by Edmond O'Brien, who just cannot command the screen as well as Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner can. Perhaps if Lancaster and Garnder had been given more prominent rules and O'Brien had been marginalized, the relative triteness of the larger screenplay could have been overlooked.
I give this film a 6. The first 20 minutes are epic, but the rest isn't.
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