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.
Amid a semi-documentary portrait of New York and its people, Jean Dexter, an attractive blonde model, is murdered in her apartment. Homicide detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran investigate. Suspicion falls on various shifty characters who all prove to have some connection with a string of apartment burglaries. Then a burglar is found dead who once had an elusive partner named Willie. The climax is a very rapid manhunt sequence. Filmed entirely on location in New York City. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The merging of Film Noir with a realistic police drama
This film is in many ways a good example of Film Noir--since it portrays a murder and its investigation, has a classic Noir-style ending and has some very "dark" story elements. However, unlike traditional Film Noir, the dialog and lighting are much more like a traditional film--less snappy dialog and more of an emphasis on conventional police work. This is NOT really a bad thing, as the film still was very entertaining but with a lighter and almost documentary feel to it and with a greater emphasis on the police work instead of on the sleazy Noir villains. In fact, since the film focused on the police and the day to day aspects of the investigation, it helped to usher in a style of film making that would be very popular in the 1950s on TV and in theaters (such as the show DRAGNET or the movie HE WALKED BY NIGHT).
The film itself stars Barry Fitzgerald. This is a VERY unusual casting decision but it did work very well. Normally, Fitzgerald is known for cute supporting roles, like the ones he played in GOING MY WAY and THE QUIET MAN. Here, however, he's a detective who coordinates the investigation. I liked it this way because he was far from the macho cop but more like a REAL policeman--experienced, smart and not about to resort to a fist fight with his foes--avoiding the usual movie clichés to say the least! In addition, the rest of the cast also seem more like real policemen when compared to other films of the time. The criminals, likewise, seem real and aren't obviously "bad" like they usually are in crime films--again a big plus.
So overall, this is a very realistic and engaging crime film with elements of Noir but certainly NOT the traditional style for the genre (the familiar Noir dialog, lighting, film angles, femme fatales, etc. are missing because they wouldn't be appropriate). It may disappoint some die-hard Noir fans, but for me it was quite acceptable and a good change of pace.
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