Having lost his heavyweight championship match, boxer Ernie Driscoll now drives a taxi for a living and earns the scorn of his nagging wife, Pauline, who blames him for her lack of social status. Involved with jewel thief Victor Rawlins, Pauline is murdered by him when she impedes his ability to fence the jewels. Blamed for his wife's murder, Ernie must track down Rawlins before he leaves the country. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As in the the previous year's Kansas City Confidential, John Payne is a most put-upon protagonist. Directed by KC Confidential's Phil Karlson, and photographed in gorgeous black and white, alternately harsh and painterly, by Franz Planer, this one has Payne as a washed up prizefighter who must avenge his worthless wife's murder, not because he cared particularly for her but because he is (falsely) implicated in it. Payne has to take on a good number of unsavory characters, and proves himself if nothing else still a most able man with his fists. There's a nice feeling for fifties urban night life in this one, of a less than high class style. Karlson shows an almost Fritz Langian feeling for the traps people fall into, personal and criminal, and like Lang doesn't go much for self-pity. In the Karlson scheme of things guys get framed for things they didn't do every day, affluent crooks wear expensive overcoats and take cruises fairly regularly, while working stiffs get the wrong end of the stick every time. It takes a tough man to survive in this universe. Payne is not only tough he's so resolute and bad tempered as to make the real bad guys look like the respectable businessmen they claim to be. It's Payne Against the World in this one. Or Pain Against the World, as the character Payne plays seems to suffer as much from internal anguish as anything the villains of the piece cook up for him.
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