A markedly different sort of gangster movie, this is a film à clef, 'torn from the headlines' in the best Warners tradition. In 1936, Special Prosecutor Thomas E Dewey put Lucky Luciano behind bars on prostitution charges. The case hinged on the testimony of three 'working girls' who tied the mob boss directly to the vice operation. The names have been changed, and the less salubrious details swept under the carpet, but to all intents and purposes Bogart plays Dewey (a rare appearance on the right side of the law), Ciannelli is Luciano, and Davis is the prostitute 'Cokey Flo' (here, nightclub hostess Mary Dwight). What really makes the film stand out is its focus on the women, identifying Davis and her girlfriends as the unsung heroines of a cruel economic and social trap; even at their moment of triumph, the girls' future is defined by an uncertain and unsettling fog. Davis shows her mettle, smartly directed by Bacon, and there is strong support, right down to Bogie's wife at the time, Mayo Methot. The hardboiled screenplay is by Robert Rossen and Abem Finkel, who couldn't know that a year later Flo and the others would admit they had perjured themselves for money and legal protection.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Robert Rossen, Abem Finkel|