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On Chicago's South Side reporter Ed Ames finds the body of a dead girl. Her address book leads to a host of names of men frightened by her death but claiming never to have known her. Ames comes to know quite a lot, dangerously so.
After three years on the run, Jim Guthrie returns with the scar of a rope burn on his neck. In flashback we learn how he was framed for murder but then escaped from the lynch mob just as he was about to be hung. Tired of running, he has returned to find the real killer and the Sheriff has given him just three hours to do it. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
Durable leading man Dana Andrews stars in this B-side western about a fight between Andrews and Richard Webb that ends in Webb being murdered
but despite appearing to be caught red-handed, is Andrews actually
the culprit? After a near-summary execution by some over-zealous locals, Andrews narrowly escapes returning several years later to clear his name.
Familiar plot has surprising depth in the female casting for a film of this ilk, alongside Donna Reed as Andrews' former beau is Dianne Foster as the versatile and open-minded admirer Chris, while Carolyn Jones and Charlotte Fletcher play a pair of damsels who've both fallen for card shark Laurence Hugo, one of many on Andrews' hit list.
Good also to see Stephen Elliott who later garnered fame in films like "Arthur" and "Beverly Hills Cop", in his film debut in the key supporting role of Ben, the town's new sheriff who's friendship with Andrews affords him three hours grace to catch the killer or be tried for murder (hence the title).
There's a simmering tension that prevails the full eighty-odd minutes, with a particularly taut scene in which veteran Whit Bissell (playing the town's ubiquitous barber) takes a razor to Andrews' throat, as he nervously fends off accusations that he is the real killer. Pretty decent whodunit western that no doubt some armchair sleuths will solve before the climax, nevertheless, it's a bittersweet ending that rejects the typical clichés making this overall, a better-than-average yarn.
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