Rich Lois Frazer, divorcing her fortune-hunter husband, finds he's bought a gun. Suspecting he plans to kill her, she calls in her lover, who just happens to be Homicide Lieutenant Ed Cullen. When Ed arrives, the gun gets used...and because of his relationship with Lois, Ed is compelled to compound a felony. The good news: Ed himself is assigned to the case. The bad news: Ed's hotshot younger brother Andy, a new- minted detective, is also on the case...and anxious to prove himself.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Eddie Muller's commentary on TCM's Noir Alley raises my appraisal to an 8/10
Eddie M. is great at pointing out a film's strengths and weaknesses, and he did a great job on this recently restored film. This film was made on a shoestring budget and produced by Jack M. Warner, who was constantly feuding with daddy, THE Jack Warner,, and wanted to make films on his own. If the film had a bigger budget, the womanizing workaholic senior detective would have been played by Robert Mitchum, not Lee J. Cobb. The wealthy femme fatale would have been Ida Lupino instead of Jane Wyatt???. John Dall is a little off the tracks in this one, coming across like a young Jimmy Stewart rather than the straight arrow one woman younger brother of Cobb's character, anxious to learn the trade of detective from big brother, but with a deep sense of justice and honesty that overrides even kinship.
The set-up is this. The opening scene shows a man burning any sign that he just bought a gun in a plush living room. He hides the gun. However, the bill of sale falls to the floor. Lois, the wife, played by Jane Wyatt, comes into the living area yelling at and accusing the husband, distractingly dressed to the nines and looking a bit too much like a woman dressed in her daughter's prom dress. The husband says he has had it and is flying to Seattle and leaves. But wealthy Lois finds the bill of sale, she finds the gun, and she finds that her husband has been looking over the changes she has been planning to make to her will, and those plans did not include hubby.
Frantically believing that her husband plans to return and kill her (I don't blame her) she calls her boyfriend, who just happens to be Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Cobb), and tells him to get there right away. He does. While there the husband does return, and enters the house by jimmying a lock, there are angry statements back and forth between husband and wife, and Lois shoots her husband dead. Lois appeals to her policeman boyfriend to help her. He does. The husband left his car at the airport - probably as an alibi for his wife's murder. Ed ironically uses that alibi and returns the dead body of the murdered would be murderer to the airport, outside, so it will look like a robbery gone wrong.
But things go wrong for Ed. He is seen at the airport by an older couple - but it is night. He throws the gun off the Golden Gate Bridge, but again is seen by a policeman who knows him. And worse, a few days later the gun Ed threw in the bay shows up in another killing. How does this all turn out? Watch and find out.
There are some spectacular shots of 1950 San Francisco in this one, and the cinematography is excellent. Stay for the story, and just endure the complete lack of chemistry between Cobb and Wyatt.
Probably the most interesting and noirish story in the cast is that of Lisa Howard, who plays John Dall's wife. She left movies in the late 50s and reinvented herself as a journalist, scoring interviews with Fidel Castro, the Shah of Iran and Nikita Khrushchev. Her behavior and politics got extreme though, and she was fired from NBC news in 1964. Suing her employer made her a pariah in her industry, and on July 4, 1965 she killed herself with a bottle of barbiturates in a parking lot. Eddie Muller said her story would make a great film - "The Woman Who Cheated Herself".
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