Once three childhood friends. Now, a ruthless, domineering woman is married to an alcoholic D.A., and a returning companion who may have been the only witness to her murder of her rich aunt seventeen years earlier.
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.
Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.
In 1928, young heiress Martha Ivers fails to run off with friend Sam Masterson, and is involved in fatal events. Years later, Sam returns to find Martha the power behind Iverstown and married to "good boy" Walter O'Neil, now district attorney. At first, Sam is more interested in displaced blonde Toni Marachek than in his boyhood friends, but they draw him into a convoluted web of plotting and cross-purposes. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Future film director and producer Blake Edwards had an uncredited bit part as a sailor who hitches a ride with Sam. See more »
Walter is slurring drunk when with Martha, as the scene moves on he sounds completely sober. See more »
[in a catty tone, after letting herself in to the room unannounced where Toni is showing off a new outfit to Sam]
The sun suit looks very well on her, Sam, she's got just the figure for it. She's a very pretty girl.
I give another show at 8 o'clock.
In your room or here?
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This is a well-written, well-acted, thoroughly absorbing film noir. The always-great Barbara Stanwyck is at her sultriest as Martha, and Van Heflin is incredibly sexy and masculine as Sam. Watching this movie, you wouldn't think Kirk Douglas, who plays the weak-willed, alcoholic Walter, would soon become a bigger star than Heflin and play the tough, romantic hero parts like Sam Masterson. Douglas excelled at those parts, as he did with a very different type of part in this movie, but I can't help thinking that if Heflin had gotten more of those roles, he would have been just as big a star. Husky-voiced Lizabeth Scott rounds out the star foursome nicely as Toni, a wrong-side-of-the-tracks girl who's been burned by trusting the wrong men. This movie, more than most of its era, trades in shades of gray; the "bad" characters, Martha and Walter, have reasons for the evil they do, while the "good" characters, Sam and Toni, are no angels--he's a decorated war hero, but he makes his living by gambling and once killed a man in self-defense, while she just got out of jail. This complexity adds to the film's interest. The film also provides a believable depiction of small-town life; it's realistic, no Bedford Falls. The flashback portraying several of the characters as teenagers has the spark of reality as well. Highly recommended.
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