When the owner of a printing shop is found dead, the District Attorney assumes that it was a suicide. But the Assistant D.A., Howard Malloy, suspects that there is a connection with an extremist political group called the 'Crusaders'. When a journalist whose articles had attacked the Crusaders is also killed, Malloy is convinced. With help from the widow of a prominent judge, he conducts an investigation. As he does so, he meets a peculiar political boss and also an attractive night club singer, each of whom could become either a source of help or a source of danger. Written by
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »
Many purists will find this film not a noir. A great deal of the cinematography,lighting and camera angles, however, is textbook noir and this alone makes the film worth watching. Jean Wallace plays herself but it's a great play. The main character is sufficiently morally ambiguous--he knows his promotion comes from dubious sources and when he defeats these sources we don't see him disavowing the new job. The political angle doesn't work today in the way it might have at the time; watching this 1949 film today it's worth recalling that this was a period, just before McCarthy and Korea, when everything seemed up for grabs in the U.S. Prosperity was still, for a lot of folks, 'just around the corner' and the film in some ways portrays the fear that Nazis, communists, whoever, had infiltrated social and political elites. The director and others involved were part of the Mercury Theater grouping, associated in various ways with Orson Welles. There's a remarkable sequence in the party sequence in the middle of the film where the camera assumes first person position...a bit like the earlier Lady in the Lake by Robert Montgomery, for a few minutes. I found the use of voice-over and first person camera an interesting wrinkle on noir's interrogation if the 'inner subject.' Markle would go on to head the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and had earlier worked as an uncredited screenwriter for Orson Welles.
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