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.
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.
Nick Smith, the middle-aged proprietor of a roadside restaurant, hires drifter Frank Chambers as a handyman. Frank eventually begins an affair with Nick's beautiful wife Cora, who talks Frank into helping her kill Nick, by "accident." But the best laid plans...... Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
A rebellious drifter named Frank (John Garfield) happens onto a rural hamburger joint, managed by a jovial old man named Nick (Cecil Kellaway). Nick wants to hire Frank. And in Frank's mind, an added incentive would be Nick's beautiful wife Cora (Lana Turner). Thus begins the story.
I have two big problems with this film: the script and the casting. The setup starts slow and lasts too long. In the middle Act interest picks up a little, despite some improbable coincidences. But later we're introduced to confusing legalities, compounded by contrived twists. And the ending contradicts the darker tone of earlier sequences.
Much of the plot is a tangled web of this and that, held together entirely by the three lead characters. It's like the writers sorted through dozens of script drafts, couldn't decide; then in frustration, hurriedly wrote a final draft that was a compromise of the previous versions.
John Garfield is well cast and does a fine job. But someone other than Kellaway would have been better in the role of Nick. Much, much worse than the casting of Kellaway, however, was the casting of glamorous Lana Turner, as Cora. Turner, with her blonde hair and glossy facade, is not at all convincing either as Nick's wife, or as a young, spidery beauty stuck in a two-bit hamburger joint. Further, her acting is awful. She doesn't act so much as she ... poses for the camera, in a bid to show off her glamour for future starring roles. Her presence seriously detracts from the story.
I think Audrey Totter, who plays a minor role, would have been fine as Cora. So too would have been Ida Lupino. Indeed, almost anyone would have been better than Turner, even Broderick Crawford in a wig.
Critics regard this film highly. I'm not sure why. About the only thing to recommend it is the performance of John Garfield.
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