TCM has shown this film but infrequently. My copy goes back to the days when it used a ribbon logo for 15 seconds instead of tcm.com for 30 seconds.
The main story in this noir is a syndicate crime story. There is a collector of vice proceeds (Robert Bailey) who drives a car with special locks such that the car cannot be opened while he's inside and its glass is very strong. Bailey collects from several syndicate operators, including Ken Lynch. He turns the aggregate over to Robert Douglas who then passes it along. Each link in the chain is isolated from the others, or is supposed to be, and each link works in fear that if they stole the proceeds and ran, they'd be caught and killed. Douglas, however, has big debts including the upkeep of his secretary-mistress, Vera Miles. She urges him on to a heist. How this is done and how it works out makes for a very captivating story. The syndicate sends in the psychologically-menacing Robert H. Harris, a specialist in playing such parts.
The police play a substantial role in the story. When they find the body of Bailey shot inside his car after he runs down a family, they have few clues. There is quite a bit here having to do with the ineffective old commissioner (David White) who is replaced by the well-organized and knowledgeable Jack Warden. Jay Adler, a hack, threads his way in and out of the police activities. Little by little the police, including Arch Johnson in support, begin to gauge the vague outlines of what may have happened. Meanwhile the thieves involved, lacking honor, are working against each other in a series of double crosses. The police really do not know the details.
Vera Miles, Ken Lynch, Robert Douglas and Robert H. Harris provide the most memorable characters and acting in this movie, but the others are no slouches either. David White is effective as a bumbler. Adler is an inveterate scene-stealer. Arch Johnson does a good job portraying an honest cop who is always passed over for promotion to an administrative job because he's not viewed as having the skills. Lynch's gravelly voice always awakens any scene he's in. Vera Miles, in particular, plays a woman who makes her way by exploiting the weakness of men for women. Her character has a degree of contempt for men that she conceals but that comes out in her behavior. When she walks into a dive where a stripper is doing her act, Miles looks toward the act and smiles, as if she's amused at the control over the men exhibited by the strip-tease routine.
Keep your eyes open for this enjoyable crime noir.
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