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.
When the intelligent criminal Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider is released from prison, he seeks a fifty thousand-dollar investment from the bookmaker Cobby to recruit a small gang of specialists for a million-dollar heist of jewels from a jewelry. Doc is introduced to the lawyer Alonzo D. Emmerich that offers to finance the whole operation and buy the gems immediately after the burglary. Doc hires the safecracker Louis Ciavelli, the driver Gus Minissi and the gunman Dix Handley to the heist. His plan works perfectly but bad luck and betrayals compromise the steps after the heist and the gangsters need to flee from the police. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At least two versions exist as to how Marilyn Monroe came to be cast in the film. One version has an employee of MGM's talent department suggesting that John Huston try out Monroe, with Huston immediately recognizing her as perfect for the role after her sensual audition. But another version, as supported by MGM archives, has Monroe as a "dark horse" contender for the role. Huston had reportedly already chosen a blond actress named Lola Albright for the role. When a very nervous Monroe auditioned for the part, Huston was not impressed. But Albright had recently found success with a supporting role in Champion (1949), so it was unlikely she would accept a small role in the crime melodrama. Huston tested eight other starlets, but Monroe stayed in the running, mainly because of the persistence of MGM talent director, Lucille Ryman Carroll. Huston remained adamant that Monroe wouldn't fit the bill, until Carroll prevailed by taking advantage of an ironic coincidence. See more »
When Mr. Ciavelli was inside of a long narrow tunnel. He chisels through the thin brick wall of the tunnel and goes inside of a room, and along that same wall is a door leading upstairs. On the other side of the wall, there was no evidence of a door. See more »
Oh Lon, when I think of all those awful people you come in contact with - downright criminals - I get scared.
Alonzo D. Emmerich:
Oh, there's nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of human endeavor.
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I am a fan of film noir, owning many of them, and this one is right about at the top of the list and climbing each time I view it. It might even have passed Double Indemnity for the number one spot. It's that good.
For anyone who has not seen it: the poster art and the video/DVD cover are both misleading. They usually feature Marilyn Monroe in publicizing this movie, but she only has a small role. Many times they feature Monroe, Jean Hagen and Sterling Hayden all together....and those three are never on screen at the same time. My point being: what you see on the outside is not what's on the inside.
Hayden is the star of the film but Sam Jaffe and Louis Calhern are not far behind. In fact, the more I watch this film, the more I see the latter two as the real stars here, and I especially have begun to appreciate the great acting by Calhern in here.
Actually, everyone performs at a very high level. The diverse and interesting characters are really fun to watch, one of the big reasons I rate this film so high. Hayden, with his big body and tough demeanor, was perfect for film noir. He is a legitimate tough guy, nobody to fool with. Jaffe was fascinating as the little German "doctor" but until I got the DVD and put on the English subtitles, I never understood all his dialog, which is terrific, and "Doc" is my favorite character in this film. Kudos also go to James Whitmore and Marc Lawrence for great supporting role performances.
The two women, Hagen and Monroe, also do their bits nicely. I never understood people who criticized Monroe's acting. I thought she was pretty good right from the start, with this film as an example. I also liked seeing her thin and in shape.
This movie is a gritty, tough, no-nonsense crime story concerning a jewel robbery where things go wrong and eventually does everybody in. Actually, it isn't just a botched robbery that ruins some of them - it's character weakness, from greed to sexual lust.
"You reap what you sow" could be a moral of this story.
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