A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
A writer meets a young socialite on board a train. The two fall in love and are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them.
Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon always wanted to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But for a good guy, he's awfully vicious. After several complaints over his roughing people up, his boss, Insp. Nicholas Foley, demotes him. Foley tells him he's a good man, but needs to get his head on straight and be more like Det. Lt. Thomas, who has just gotten a promotion. Meanwhile, Tommy Scalise has an illegal dice game going and is looking to make a sucker out of the rich Ted Morrison, who was brought in by Ken Paine and his beautiful wife Morgan. She figures out too late her husband is using her as a decoy. Paine strikes her when she refuses to play along. The chivalrous Morrison intervenes but Paine knocks him out cold. That seems to be the worst of it, but later it turns out the guy is dead; and Paine looks guilty. Soon Dixon has fallen in love with Morgan - but not before losing his temper again and committing a terrible deed that he tries to cover up. Morgan's father... Written by
At first glance, it would seem natural to compare Where the Sidewalk Ends with Laura. Both have noirish qualities, both were directed by Otto Preminger, and both star Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. But that's where most of the comparisons end. Laura dealt with posh, sophisticated people with means who just happen to find themselves mixed-up in a murder. Where the Sidewalk Ends is set in a completely different strata. These are people with barely two nickels to rub together who are more accustomed to seeing the underbelly of society than going to fancy dress parties. Where the Sidewalk ends is a gritty film filled with desperate people who solve their problems with their fists or some other weapon. Small-time hoods are a dime-a-dozen and cops routinely beat confessions out of the crooks. Getting caught-up in a murder investigation seems as natural as breathing.
While I haven't seen his entire body of work, based on what I have seen, Dana Andrews gives one of his best performances as the beat-down cop, Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon. He's the kind of cop who is used to roughing up the local hoods if it gets him information or a confession. One night, he goes too far and accidentally kills a man. He does his best to cover it up. But things get complicated when he falls for the dead man's wife, Morgan Taylor (Tierney), whose father becomes suspect number one in the murder case. As Morgan's father means the world to her, Dixon's got to do what he can to clear the old man without implicating himself.
Technically, Where the Sidewalk Ends is outstanding. Besides the terrific performance from Andrews, the movie features the always delightful Tierney. She has a quality that can make even the bleakest of moments seem brighter. The rest of the cast is just as solid with Tom Tully as the wrongly accused father being a real standout. Beyond the acting, the direction, sets, lighting, and cinematography are all top-notch. Overall, it's an amazingly well made film.
If I have one complaint (and admittedly it's a very, very minor quibble) it's that Tierney is almost too perfect for the role and her surroundings. It's a little difficult to believe that a woman like that could find herself mixed-up with some of these unsavory characters. It's not really her fault, it's just the way Tierney comes across. She seems a little too beautiful, polished, and delicate for the part. But, her gentle, kind, trusting nature add a sense of needed realism to her portrayal.
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