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A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.
Olivia de Havilland,
Petty crook and cop-killer Martin Rome, in bad shape from wounds in the hospital prison ward, still refuses to help slimy lawyer Niles clear his client by confessing to another crime. Police Lt. Candella must check Niles' allegation; a friend of the Rome family, he walks a tightrope between sentiment and cynicism. When Martin fears Candella will implicate his girlfriend Teena, he'll do anything to protect her. How many others will he drag down to disaster with him? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Midway through the film, while Rome is knifing Niles to death, the latter manages to pull a pistol from his desk drawer, but is only able to fire 1 shot through the ceiling; moments later we see Niles' secretary, who was eavesdropping just outside the door, is seen dropping dead, apparently from that bullet. See more »
You just know that slimy lawyer Niles (Kroeger) is going to get his somewhere along the line in this highly interesting noir. More a movie of parts than a whole, some of these parts nevertheless remain pretty memorable. Was there ever better tough guy than Richard Conte. Here he's wounded gangster Martin Rome getting his way with everyone, that is, until he runs into Rose. Now, whatever the 6'2", 230 lbs, Hope Emerson is, she's no rose. Her massage scene with Conte is priceless, and in my book, the movie's high point, one of the most amusingly unexpected and well calculated in all noir. At the same time, scope out the breakfast scene with Conte, where she fills her mouth like Godzilla churning up Tokyo, or where she manhandles the unfortunate cops trying to take her down. I hope there's a special place in Hollywood heaven for one-and-only characters like the hulking Emerson.
In fact, the film features a number of unusual and unheralded players that spice up the proceedingsWalter Baldwin as the trustee Orvy, crooked teeth and all; Betty Garde as plain- looking nurse Pruett, who takes no guff from anybody including cops; and Barry Kroeger as puffy-face lawyer Niles, an insult to his profession. These are not pretty people in the usual Hollywood sense, and I think one of the fascinations of noir is to feature such types at a time when movies prized good-looking people above all. Here, along with the shambling Emerson, they leave us with an impression of real city streets instead of a casting call along Hollywood and Vine.
Among the more conventional, it's fun to see a still slender Shelley Winters (Brenda) doing her cheap blonde bit as she fends off a tipsy masher in a bar. Her character sort of drops into the narrative out of nowhere, making me wonder whether something connective got edited out. Frankly, headliner Victor Mature (Candella) hasn't much to do except stand around and look handsomely imposing. Instead, co-star Conte gets all the best scenes, good lines, and audience interest. At the same time, something should be said for young Tommy Cook who makes a good gritty impact as Conte's younger brother.
Then too, check out director Siodmak's visual approach to the filming. Usually the light and shadow of expressionist noir takes place on a sound stage where control is absolute. But here, the imaginative Siodmak mixes expressionist light and shadow with location shooting to create an unusual overall effect. Note the number of location shots without the natural lighting that ordinarily would create a more documentary feel. It's a curious but effective blend. In passingnote too Siodmak's beautifully paced direction of the jailbreak sequence, a really suspenseful look at bureaucratic paper-shuffling, in this case, a police department.
The story itself is pretty shopworntwo friends growing up together in the ghetto, where one ends up becoming a cop, while the other turns to crime. In short, the sort of thing Cagney and O'Brien did in the 30's. Nonetheless, Siodmak's imaginative approach, plus the many interesting characters and entertaining vignettes make this version a noir worth catching up with.
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