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First feature film from director Fred Zinneman is a snappy little "B" feature that features Van Heflin as the head of a city crime lab who solves the murder of the town mayor by analyzing evidence from the crime.Written by
There might be little to recommend this movie beyond a look at Van Heflin in a constrained early role. Oh, and that the director is the noted Fred Zinneman himself.
This is a crime caper formula movie, and it's enjoyable all through. For me, a highlight was the unexpected ease of the leading actress, Marsha Hunt (who is still alive at 100 years old as I write this). She is a kind of "regular girl" who everyone is meant to like, but she has a natural presence on screen that seems like should have meant something bigger. Maybe that kind of "normalness" isn't quite star material, not bigger than life. But see it for her, at least.
Heflin is an acquired taste these days, but an interesting leading man a little different than the rest (he's great in "Martha Ivers" and "Act of Violence"). His role here is meant to be a really determined and incorruptable science guy in a crime lab. There is a little of that show-and-tell that happens in some detective movies of the time, but not too much to make it lag.
The plot owes something to gangster films, where the big crime guy has the D.A. in his pocket. But this same man is also in love (or pretends to be) with the Hunt character.
It's all in good entertainment fun, however, nothing too thrilling, and nothing too corny or cheap either. Back to Zinneman. This is his first feature film direction. The snappy, smart construction might be a sign of things to come, once he gets meatier material. Interesting!
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