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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>
Heston does a marvelous job is in his first star turn. Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, and Ed Begley lend impeccable supporting work. Don De Fore is re-teamed with Lizabeth Scott for the first time since You Came Along. Scott (Dead Reckoning, Strange Love of Martha Ivers, I Walk Alone, Stolen Face) is one of my all-time favorite femme fatales. Dieterle's direction is fast-paced and interesting throughout. Unfortunately, the whole turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.
The problem is in the inconsistent and unimaginative script. It's really a pedestrian tale of revenge with a miscast Mike Mazurki -- not a true film noir as it is normally billed. The parade of musical interludes is annoying. The chemistry between Scott and Heston doesn't work. And, the ending is a real letdown.
Chalk this one up as a well-acted and well-directed misfire.
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