Johnny Damico botches a murder case and is suspended from the force. In reality, he is put undercover to identify the mysterious boss of the NY waterfront who has murdered everyone in his way. Will Johnny be next in line?
Three burglars steal a valuable necklace before encountering the proverbial web of deceit.
The movie's a highly uneven work, reminding me as much of Kubrick's The Killing (1956) as the arty flashes of Welles and others. Clearly director Wendkos is reaching for an artistic style, but unlike Kubrick, Wendkos imitates more than he originates. Plus he's working with a ham-handed screenplay that lacks the clarity and flow of Kubrick's classic racetrack caper. Unfortunately, the narrative here tends to stumble along rather than evolve. For example, note the holes in just how the crooked cop puts his operation together, and how he knows as much as he knows. Nonetheless, the opening ten minutes covering the jewel theft is very effective, showing real promise. But the fluidity soon lapses.
On a lighter note, I can't help but notice (like another reviewer) Mansfield's unusually bushy eyebrows that undercut her good looks. I'm wondering if they were natural and later pared back by a studio make-over or whether they resulted here from a myopic make-up man. In fact, without all the studio glamorizing of later years, I hardly recognized her.
Anyway, for all its shortcomings, the movie remains a generally interesting curiosity that also affirms an unusual moral. Namely, that there can be more honor among thieves than among cops. Something Kubrick also knew.
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Get to know the fractured films of Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Oscar-nominee The Favourite. And join us here for the IMDb LIVE at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, streaming at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST on Sunday, Feb. 24.