Combining elements of crime drama, police procedural, Ellroy-esque
love triangle and wronged-man social tragedy, this superb 1947 crime thriller from Western legend Anthony Mann sets
up a handful of unforgettable central characters: Duke Martin (John
Ireland), the dirty rat who shoots a cop during a bookie heist; Clara
Calhoun (Jane Randolph), the platinum blonde ice maiden who helps him do
it; Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont), the upstanding cop hot on their
trail, and Rosie Ryan (Sheila Ryan), the good girl who gets in too deep
when she tries to exonerate her brother, framed for the killing.
The movie is brilliantly paced,
superbly acted and packed with bruising one-liners. Mann would go on to
bigger and – arguably – better things, but his key themes are already in
evidence here: masculine fallibility, misdirected intelligence and the
human urge to violence. A fascinating rediscovery.