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Andrew Morton is an attorney who made it out of the slums. Nick Romano is his client, a young man with a long string of crimes behind him. After he lost his paycheck gambling, hoping to buy his wife some jewelry, she announced she was pregnant, Later he finds her dead from suicide. When he turns again to robbery he's caught by a cop and Nick pumps all his bullets into him in frustration. Morton's appeal to the court emphasizes the evils of the slums. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you guys are lying to me your pushing Nick straight into the electric chair.
***SPOILERS*** Nicholas Ray's first film that's very much like his 1955 classic "Rebel Without a Cause" which deals with a troubled youth where in "Rebel" it's star James Dean, as James Stark, was a troubled and misunderstood teenager. In the movie "Knock on any Door" the young man Nick"Pretty Boy" Romono", John Derek, is a hardened and career criminal. Arrested after a cop was shot and killed outside the 3.80 Club Nick is grabbed by the police together with a score of other persons and charged with the policemen's murder.
Attorney Andrew Morton ,Humphrey Bogart, who handles only property and probate cases goes against his law partners wishes to take up Nick's defense pro bono. Andrew feels that he owes him at least that since he holds himself responsible for the violent life that Nick had chosen years earlier. Six years ago Andrew turned the case of Nick's dad over to his law partner Ed Elkins, Curt Conway. He felt at the time that it was an open and shut case for old man Romono being found innocent. Elkins however blotched it up and caused the old man to be sentenced to a year in prison and died after four months behind bars. With Nick suddenly becoming the family bread-winner he drifted into a life of crime and worked himself up, over those six years, from petty theft to what he's now being accused of, the murder of a law enforcement officer.
Ahead of it's time, even though very dated now, "Knock on any Door" gets into the background of it's accused killer like a scalpel used by a neurosurgeon goes into the brain of his patient. The entire movie goes from Nick's trial to his past, through a series of flashbacks and shows how he got to where is is now; on trial for his life.
Handsome John Derek's first film and he does the best with the part that he has giving a three dimensional, unlike the usual cartoon-like, performance of the ruthless criminal Nick "Pretty Boy" Romono who has a heart of gold under all that barb wire that he covers himself up with. Humphrey Bogart gives his usual high quality performance as the lawyer Abdrew Morton who goes out of his way to try to save the "abused and troubled" young man from a one-way trip to the electric chair.
Very emotional and powerful ending sequence where Andrew gives his closing argument not just about his client's Nick Romono tormented and troubled past,as he pleads for the jury to spare his life, but also for the future. Andrews final summery is in preventing more Nick Romono's from evolving out of the depressed and hopeless crime infested neighborhoods that they come from and grow up in.
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