After two gang-related killings in "Center City," a suspect (who was framed) is arrested, released on bail...and murdered. Inspector Briggs of the FBI recruits a young agent, Gene Cordell, to go undercover in the shadowy Skid Row area (alias George Manly) as a potential victim of the same racket. Soon, Gene meets Alec Stiles, neurotic mastermind who's "building an organization along scientific lines." Stiles recruits Cordell, whose job becomes a lot more dangerous... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This FBI -vs- the gangsters film seems a bit stiff and hokey in the first 15 minutes, then takes off when Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark) shows up. When he's on screen, the movie bolts forward, leaving it's 1950's school-film documentary approach, into a seedy world where crime is the panorama.
Widmark's performance is really the only noteworthy one in the film. His presence, while not overwhelming, is still bodacious. He's neither chilling nor very menacing (even though he's mean as hell to his non-femme fatale girlfriend); yet there's something charismatic about him that makes you want to watch his unique screen presence here.
The last 45 minutes of the film is truly excellent entertainment and the final 10 minutes or so is a wet, dark, dripping noir.
I'd give it 10 stars if not for the first few scenes that don't involve Widmark.
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