Det Sgt Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) just wants to be like his father,a decent upstanding member of the community and a good cop but he’s got some anger management problems and isn’t afraid to go above and beyond to enforce his own personal justice which gets him into all sorts of trouble.
The intro is brilliant, very clever use of names written on the sidewalk while a pair of feet stroll around, The film starts out simple, Dixon is a hot head, goes after a criminal and fucks everything up by killing the suspect by one banging him in the head, he scapers and then has to investigate the crime while trying not to incriminate himself and while trying to seduce Morgan (Gene Tierney).
This film is amazing, the tension and rawness of this epic film noir is outstanding. I do adore film noir but the whole crime solving aspects go over my head (yeah I’m that lame) but I could keep up and appreciate the mechanics here Usually Dana plays a good guy and while he is a anti hero police officer who is also a crooked bully who packs killer punches. But once the damage is done everything steps up notch and tilters on the edge and the director Otto Preminger manages to keep it and the audience there indefinitely.
There are some ties with Kirk Douglas in Detective Story (1951) but whereas he is a self righteous asshole who is blind to his own faults, Dixon is wrecked with grief of his actions and actually wants to redeem himself, and his character shows a certain level of nobility, yeah even after you kill someone it doesn’t mean you have to succumb to being a douche forever. He still manages to fall in love (even though it’s with the dead guy’s girl) and after implicating her father in the murder he does what he can to save him and all while trying not to implicate himself,
It’s a deep movie with a great ending, nothing it left open here. The acting is very typical of the age and genre, you can’t have a film noir without a bombshell and the men have to all be very manly,it’s both nail biting and has a few lashings of humor, especially when Dixon visits his favourite cafe.
Full film review coming soon…