When a detective scoffs at his suggestion that an 18 year-old criminal be referred for psychiatric examination Dr. Andrew Collins, the police psychiatrist, tells him the story of his encounter with Al Walker. Walker had a history of violence and killed the prison warden during an escape. He and his gang took the Collins family and their friends hostage but when Dr. Collins learns that Walker has a violent recurring dream, he offers to help him decipher the dream and determine exactly what has driven him to a life of crime and violence. Written by
[Referring to Stevens]
How's the tough guy? Is he behaving?
He's talking business. He wants to make a deal. He thinks his life is worth money.
How much did he offer... two bucks?
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As others have noted, the Freud 101 psycho-babble almost ruins an otherwise good movie. Yet, if you can brush aside the silliness of the dated script, there's some excellent acting here by Lee J. Cobb and William Holden, and a fairly decent film noir plot. The claustrophobic atmosphere of so many hostages in the house, along with the growing storm outside and the nervous but vicious gangsters creates a palpable tension that builds throughout the film. Holden is at his edgiest, playing the dangerous ex-convict on the lam. But he does what he always does best, mixing in just enough sensitivity with his animal nature to create a more complex character - you actually want to like the guy, even if he has shot people down in cold blood. The chemistry between Cobb and Holden is the best part of the film and makes it worth watching, though there are many better films to spend your time with. There are many worse ones, too.
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