The real fun in this tidy police procedural can be told in three words: location, location, location. Helmed by Budd Boetticher before he began making the Randolph Scott Westerns he’s now best-known for, this little thriller finds its palette in the deceptively bland atmosphere of subdivision houses, square front lawns, sidewalks & detached garages that once defined middle-class suburban L.A.; a surprisingly rare sight in films of the day. The story gets off to good start with a quickly solved bank robbery as the cops trap the ‘inside man’ at his apartment where a gun fight leaves his innocent wife dead. The main story begins when the robber escapes and calmly carves, clobbers & shoots his way to a bloody revenge. You won’t swallow all the moves, and sometimes the low-budget defeats Boetticher, but there’s a tasty cast to root for (Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming, Alan Hale Jr. & an unexpectedly effective Wendell Corey whose sedate style grows progressively scary). By the end of the film, in spite of a few missteps that might cause a passing giggle, the climax builds up more tension than it has any right to.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: What a great poster for a little throwaway pic!
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