Gamblers who "took" an out-of-town sucker in a crooked poker game feel shadowy vengeance closing in on them.Gamblers who "took" an out-of-town sucker in a crooked poker game feel shadowy vengeance closing in on them.Gamblers who "took" an out-of-town sucker in a crooked poker game feel shadowy vengeance closing in on them.
In a sub-plot, Heston is also being pursued, although this time more agreeably, by sultry nightclub singer Lizabeth Scott while another notable background character is a supposedly "punchy" ex-boxer played by M.A.S.H.'s Harry Morgan, who acts as Heston's loyal, good-natured sidekick, although there's not much evidence provided as to his actual slowness, indeed he's one of the better judges of character in the movie.
Director William Dieterle ratchets up the tension nicely as three become two becomes one and Heston's last man standing, now humanised somewhat by meeting and slightly improbably romancing the dead man's widow and befriending her orphaned child, awaits his turn at the massive hands of the revenging sibling wearing the big black ring. The dialogue is sharp, the characterisations credible and I also liked the "Casablanca"-type, although more uplifting, ending.
Besides capably employing staple noir devices like shadows, darkness and dread, the movie is notable for the excellent songs given to Scott to perform, the most famous of which is the evergreen "That Old Black Magic" but also featuring the superb torch-song "Letter From A Lady In Love".
Heston leads the cast in already recognisably commanding manner and Scott, Morgan, Ed Begley and especially Jack Webb, later of "Dragnet", bring their characters to life in his wake.
All in all, an effective lesser known noir well worth watching.
- Dec 19, 2018