Lieutenant Thomas (Karl Malden – Nuts, Birdman of Alcatraz) is named the new leader of Precinct 16. Afterwards, Detective Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews – State Fair, A Walk in the Sun) is warned by Inspector Foley (Robert F. Simon – Operation Petticoat, The Buccaneer) that he has had more abuse complaints against Dixon and that if he gets anymore he will demote him back to pounding the beat. Partners Dixon and Klein (Bert Freed – Norma Rae, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) are assigned a murder case. Texas businessman Ted Morrison (Harry von Zell – You’re In The Navy Now) is found dead at local gangster Tommy Scalise’s (Gary Merrill – Clambake, Rawhide) dice parlor. Dixon believes that Scalise committed the murder, but has no proof. Scalise tells the detectives that Ken Paine (Craig Stevens – S.O.B., Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) had a fight with Mr. Morrison. The detectives leave to find Paine. Dixon arrives at his apartment and he is drunk. Paine attacks Dixon and Dixon hits him once. Much to Dixon’s horror, Paine is dead. Remembering what the Inspector told him, Dixon has to decide what to do about the dead body.
There is plenty of atmosphere in Otto Preminger’s (Rosebud, Exodus) film noir, but it is sometimes bogged down by the script. The particular part of the script that I had a problem with was the unlikely romance between Dixon and Morgan Taylor (Gene Tierney – The Razor’s Edge, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), the daughter of the accused murderer. The two actors do have excellent chemistry, but the romance seemed a little out of place in this film. It is a gritty film in which a moral dilemma is the center piece. Preminger is an excellent director for this genre in that he knows how to create tension with camera angles and lighting (or lack there of). As an entity, the film is very dark from its shots to its script. The film is loaded with double-entendre dialogue, suspense, violence and irony; which keeps the viewer horrified and entertained at the same time. Maybe if all film noirs were of this caliber then the genre wouldn’t have all but faded away. If you are a fan of the film noir genre then you must see this one because it is one of the best.
-Fox noir: trailers for The Dark Corner, No Way Out, and Laura