Sexy beautician Clara Calhoun, who has a bookie operation in her back room, connives with her boyfriend, mob collector Duke Martin, to stage a robbery of the day's take. But the caper turns violent; a cop and Duke's partner are shot; and Duke arranges for innocent Steve Ryan, owner of the car they stole, to be framed. At first homicide detective Mickey Ferguson thinks Steve is guilty, despite his attraction to Steve's sister Rosie. And the suave but ruthless Duke won't hesitate to keep it that way with more of his perfumed bullets... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Re-titled, and edited down to less than thirty minutes, it was sold to television in the early 1950's as part of a syndicated half hour mystery show. See more »
Reading from a book, Jackland Ainsworth quotes, "Some women should be struck regularly - like gongs", adding, "That's from Oscar Wilde, you know." In fact, it's a quotation from Noel Coward's play, "Private Lives". See more »
Some amazing stuff here. Forget the formula backdrop. This one propels.
An almost amazing movie, well made, beautifully photographed, held back by a stiff script but still it manages. And it has a dark current that makes it both creepy and contemporary. Director Anthony Mann seems to have made a dozen great films that are just under the radar, noirs and westerns that have some edge to them to keep them from falling into the abyss of their genres.
This is Mann at his mature earliest. He had made a few films in the earlier 40s, but this, along with "Desperate," marks his coming into his own. Yes, you might find too much of a formula at work here, but it's not derivative, just a little stilted in the dialog. And yes, you might ask, near the beginning, why the cops couldn't see how easy the frame up would be (anyone could have stolen the truck and committed the crime), but remember, this one fact was supported by several others, including an eyewitness confirmation. So, once over these humps, you are for a good ride.
Who to watch for amongst these relative unknowns? John Ireland, most of all, for his bad guy personification, all charm and heartlessness, simultaneously. His girlfriend, played by Sheila Ryan, is his match, in a sharp performance also dripping with selfish cruelty, but tempered, critically, by doubt and remorse.
The third star is the little known cinematographer Guy Roe, who must have been inspired by the young, rising director. The filming right from the opening, subtle crane shot of the beauty parlor facade is artfully gorgeous without becoming baroque the way Orson Welles had become (beautifully) by 1947 with "The Lady from Shanghai." Both are great examples of where the movies were just after the war, both with a dark, brooding, searching uncertainty. And both showing off the amazing movie-making machinery of post-War Hollywood. I say this because both films were smaller budget affairs, and yet they have uncompromised production.
Give this a serious look. It's imperfect, for sure, but it has such high points, including some dark dark filming that is so kinetic and scary it surprised even an old film noir fan like me, you'll be glad.
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