Small-time crook Nick Bianco gets caught in a jewel heist and despite urgings from well-meaning district attorney D'Angelo, refuses to rat on his partners and goes to jail, assured that his wife and children will be taken care of. Learning that his depressed wife has killed herself, Nick informs on his ex-pals and is paroled. Nick remarries, gets a job and begins leading a happy life when he learns one of the men he informed on, psychopathic killer Tommy Udo, has been released from custody and is out for revenge against Nick and his family. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
The background musical theme at the start and finish of the film is Alfred Newman's "Street Scene," which 20th Century-Fox frequently used for dramas set in New York (Newman was one of their house composers). See more »
When Nick looks up the phone number of the 37th Precinct in the phone book at the restaurant, it's given as UN 4-3400. But he then enters the phone booth and dials what looks like 345-3326. Definitely no zeros dialed. See more »
Nick Bianco hadn't worked for a year. He had a record - a prison record. They say it shouldn't count against you but when Nick tried to get a job the same thing always happened: "Very sorry." No prejudice, of course, but no job either. So this is how Nick went Christmas shopping for his kids.
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This film is "required reading" in the study of gangster films, mostly because of Richard Widmark's exceptional and truly frightening performance as Tommy Udo. Interestingly enough, 43 years later, actor Joe Pesci would also terrify movie audiences with his portrayal of another psychopathic gangster, who also had the rather benign name of 'Tommy'. However, unlike Pesci, Widmark never had another particularly memorable gangster role after this one.
While a lot of the story is realistic, some of it is far-fetched - mainly, the end. Only a complete lunatic would even think of walking into the headquarters of a gangster that he had just testified against and expect to come out alive. However, the tension in that restaurant confrontation scene is effective, and I suppose for the era in which this film was made, it was necessary to have the 'good hero' face down the 'bad bully' and put him in his place. In reality, of course, it just doesn't happen that way in the world of crime.
But what makes this film is Widmark, and to give an idea of just how effective he was, when this film first came out, a real-life NYC mobster(Joey Gallo) would watch it and earnestly try to imitate Widmark's style and mannerisms, thereby enhancing his own skill in intimidating others. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
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