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Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
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Danny Haley's bookie operation is shut down, so he and his pals need money; when Danny meets Arthur Winant, a sucker from out of town, he decoys him into a series of poker games where eventually Winant loses $5000 that isn't his...then hangs himself. But it seems Winant had a shadowy, protective elder brother who believes in personal revenge. And each of the card players in turn feels a faceless doom inexorably closing in. Dark streets and sexy torch-singer Fran lend ambience. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
A surprise, really great. It's not quite a B-movie, though it has some of the honesty and simplicity of a lower budget film. And it has a whole host of terrific actors, including Charlton Heston in his first Hollywood film.
Did I just say Heston was terrific? Yes, here he is, a strong, stubborn, Heston-like character, well cast and well directed and beautifully filmed. And he's at the center of a plot that has several large twists that all make sense, and some great tension throughout. Except for two or three key moments where Heston (or some other actor) does something not quite plausible, the timing and direction by William Dieterle is superb.
The leading woman is a common type in post-war movies, a woman trying to make a living singing in a night club, and she is played with restrained simplicity by Lizabeth Scott. This gives the movie a chance to feature several songs, which she performs herself (Scott even recorded an album in 1957).
Beyond the truly engrossing story, where an unseen killer is on the loose thanks to the greed of a group of backroom poker players, the movie is held together but a half dozen terrific performances. The poker players themselves, including Heston and Ed Begley, are petty and greedy and eventually scared. The man they dupe, a visiting nice guy, is Don DeFore, who pulls it off brilliantly. There are even two guys who later became steadies in "Dragnet." And then there's the detective played by Dean Jaggar, and this talkative, philosophizing, good-guy investigator actually manages to see what's going on right away. Then the cat and mouse game begins.
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