A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
Dave Bannion is an upright cop on the trail of a vicious gang he suspects holds power over the police force. Bannion is tipped off after a colleague's suicide and his fellow officers' suspicious silence lead him to believe that they are on the gangsters' payroll. When a bomb meant for him kills his wife instead, Bannion becomes a furious force of vengeance and justice, aided along the way by the gangster's spurned girlfriend Debbie. As Bannion and Debbie fall further and further into the Gangland's insidious and brutal trap, they must use any means necessary (including murder) to get to the truth. Written by
Normally, when I think of Film Noir, I DON'T think about Glenn Ford. Yes, he did a few, but his personality always seemed a little too "nice" to play in these gritty films. I was very pleasantly surprised then, when I saw this movie. Ford is an honest cop in a very crooked town. However, when the mob attacks and nearly kills him (killing his wife instead), he "pops a fuse" and becomes a very tough cop who won't take NO for an answer. I loved watching him slap people around and threaten his way to the top of the syndicate, as, with his life in ruins, he had nothing to lose.
Along the way, the headstrong Ford encounters a lot of amazing characters--all played exceptionally well. In particular, a young Lee Marvin gives perhaps his best supporting performances as a hood who has a penchant for beating up women. In one scene, he nearly breaks a bit actress' arm (and it happens to be Carolyn Jones in a performance before she was famous). In another scene, he throws scalding hot coffee in the face of his girlfriend, Gloria Grahame. It was so brutal and realistic, I flinched and found my stomach churning at its ferocity and cruelness. As for Miss Grahame, she plays the sort of excellent role she became known for--a "dame" who, down under layers and layers of scum, beats a real human heart.
Wonderful performances, terrific pacing and excellent writing make this one film well worth seeing and as a result, it's one of the best examples of Film Noir out there and a great example of a film about a cop who's seen enough and is on a rampage. This is probably Glenn Ford's best performance.
FYI--In what appears to be a cool inside joke, in one of the scenes where Ford is in the bar, the song "Mame" is playing in the background--the same song made so memorable by Rita Hayworth in GILDA--a Glenn Ford film from 1946.
Also FYI--I recently saw this film for the second time. I rarely watch films twice, but this one impressed me so much the first time, I couldn't resist. The film was, believe it or not, better the second time around and I noticed so many wonderful Film Noir touches that I truly love this movie.
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