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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Larry Nelson, paroled from prison after serving nearly half of his thirty-year sentence, is determined to not fall into the clutches of the law again, and takes a quiet job at a country sanitarium. Thete, he meets and falls for a nurse, Charlotte Maynard, and he knows the only way to enter her web is to have a lot of money, for Miss Maynard is somewhat of a gold-digger. There is a $1,000,000 robbery of an armored car, and one of the robbery gang turns up at the sanitarium. So Nelson works a money-making, shady deal with an inmate, but soon finds himself a clay pigeon for other members of the gang. Meanwhile,sweet-and-wholesome nurse, Ann Taylor, is doing her best to make Larry see he needs to take another direction. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Basehart at best as callow jailbird who finds freeside a mixed blessing
In the Hollywood of late '40s and early '50s, Richard Basehart found plenty of work in the noir cycle but never made a major mark, the mark of a Robert Mitchum or Glenn Ford or even a Dick Powell. His good looks were all-American bland - lackluster - and his acting rarely leapt to dangerous voltages. Probably more at home on stage than on the pitiless screen, he leaves one of his fullest performances in a shunted-aside noir, Outside The Wall.
Just 30 but with 15 years in stir behind him (he'd caused the death of an abusive guard when he was just a kid in reform school), he secures an unexpected release from prison. An old lifer grumbles about life outside: `Everybody's got the jitters. A buck ain't worth a buck anymore.' But mo st of all he warns about the `dames,' of whom Basehart knows absolutely nothing. He'll soon find out.
In his first night in Philadelphia, a B-girl feeds him his first taste of liquor and tries to filch his wallet; later, washing dishes, he foils a stickup and, fed up with Brotherly Love, heads for the clean country of Jewel Lake, landing a job as a lab technician at a TB sanitarium. His first patient (John Hoyt) turns out to be an ex-con he knows who's just pulled a fatal armored-car robbery. When Basehart fails to blow the whistle, the dying Hoyt trusts him enough to mule payoff money to his avaricious wife (Signe Hasso).
The straight-arrow Basehart normally wouldn't dirty his hands, but the blonde and mercenary charms of nurse Marilyn Maxwell lead him to rethink his monkish life (`I just found out what money can buy,' he tells her, forking over a platinum bracelet in his new roadster). Still, his stirring conscience beckons him to fess up about his past to good-gal Dorothy Hart. But Hoyt has the means to hold him to his bargain, while his wife and her ruthless accomplices have their own plans for him....
Crane Wilbur, who started way back in the silent era, wrote several noirs and directed a few of them, mostly about prison life (Canon City, The Story of Molly X). Here, he directs his story with some nicely observed vignettes about the dislocation awaiting released felons but, as it advances, less than persuasive plotting. But, in addition to the convincing work he coaxes from Basehart, he assembles a solid cast, with Maxwell and Hasso rivaling one another in duplicity and Hart more appealing than the saintly simp she might have been.
Harry Morgan also appears, as a thug who elicits information by sliding scalpels under fingernails. Interestingly a veteran of even more noirs than Basehart, Morgan played the heavy the year before, too, in Red Light, but couldn't hold a candle to his partner in crime, Raymond Burr. Here, he takes his place amid a balanced cast with intersecting motives that result in a movie that, while satisfying, falls well short of spectacular. Still, it merits more viewers.
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