Charles McGraw, a crazed steeplejack, is cruel, not the tower
After being thrown off a train, John Ericson, is taken in by a crew of steeplejacks led by the hard-drinking Charles McGraw. McGraw is two-timing his wife with Mari Blanchard, who nurses the often bare-chested Ericson back to health. She's out of the burlesque business and looking for security and a man with drive and prospects, which she sees in McGraw who heads the repair company. Ericson joins the team in the high and dangerous work of scaling water towers and chimneys. Steve Brodie is going with McGraw's wife. He falls from a tower because ropes were cut. Police are not called in, having little to do with itinerant workers like these. Depending on who's promoting a theory, suspicion falls on a rival team of steeplejacks, but to some extent on McGraw. McGraw's jealousy over the evident Blanchard-Ericson attraction blossoms into something worse.
This film features decent acting and some very good photography of the goings-on around a water tower and a chimney. Ernie Heller gets the credit. There are necessarily some process shots, but they are mixed in with realistic scenes. The main weakness of the story is the script. Warren Douglas, who has done good work in "Loophole" and "Cry Vengeance", falters on this one. He doesn't bring out the transition in the McGraw character. There is no clear line of suspense in the film; the urgency is missing. The continuity is lacking so that the finale comes off as abrupt. Still, the movie is watchable for b-movie fans. It's a minor noir. McGraw and Blanchard keep it interesting. A turn by Alan Hale, Jr. helps. Steve Brodie keeps it going while he's on screen. Ericson is earnest and quite solid, but he doesn't or can't create a character in depth out of the paucity of materials he's given. Mostly his part revolves around romancing Blanchard.
One wishes that there had been more work on the script because the story is all right, but Allied Artists was a low-budget operation. Thankfully, despite that, they produced a number of good or better than good films. This one is almost there.
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