If Peter Lorre had not spent the early part of his career on the stage he would have been excellent in German silent films, this movie proves it. 95% of his role is silent and he carries it off beautifully. Director Boris Ingster seems to have been influenced not only by the German silents (particularly those photographed by Karl Freund) but also by Jean Cocteau. Certain angles and lighting during the dream sequence that takes up one-third of the movie, and especially the death chamber scene, appear inspired by LE SANG D'UN POET (1930). Mr. Ingster also seemed interested in making a social commentary. Notice how during the trial of Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook Jr. who steals every scene he is in) not only a juror but also the judge himself must be prodded awake. The public defender does not really give a hoot about saving his client and the reporters don't care if an innocent man goes to the chair because either way it will make a good headline. After seeing the buildup to such dramatic intensity with not one but two innocent men accused of brutal murders some people might groan at how things get so neatly wrapped up at the conclusion. If we look at this movie as an early entry in the American "film noir" genre the ending seems perfectly normal with bizarre happenstances solving themselves and Fate taking a hand to release three men from a living nightmare (yes, I am counting The Stranger because he too "escapes" from his torment in a way). If you like spotting character actors look quickly for Donald Kerr (DEVIL BAT) and John Harmon (MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS) in small roles. Watch for Bobby Barber, publicity agent for Abbott and Costello, popping up in a cameo as an Italian grocer!