A superb thriller dismissed by many as a McCarthyist tract on its first appearance. Nominally about the hunting of Commie spies, it broadens to probe the hysterical New York underworld of the '50s, effortlessly capturing the feel of the milieu. The character Fuller seems to admire most is Widmark's pickpocket, a petty criminal who finally helps the FBI not because of any political commitment, but to settle a personal score; and although there are patriotic lines in the film, like Ritter's 'What do I know about Commies? Nothing. I just know I don't like them', they usually have an ironical slant in that they stem from private rather than public motives. Perhaps finally flawed by its overt political assumptions, but the film remains a desperate kind of masterpiece.
Cast and crew