Police Sergeant Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a corrupt cop, setting him on a collision course with an underworld kingpin, a cold-blooded henchman (Lee Marvin), and a gangster’s moll (Gloria Grahame) in this classic noir by Fritz Lang.
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Made in 1953 and it hasn't aged. The theatrical, blood-less deaths are rarely shown, yet remain shudder-inducing a couple of times, without titillation. The female characters play as much of a role as the male ones, and Debbie is probably one of my favourite femmes fatales who should never have been underestimated. The soft-focus close-ups are a thing to behold, but it's Fritz Lang so it's pretty much a given.
I was about to say I found Gloria Grahame's baby-voice inflections to be scene-ruining levels of annoying until she strolled in with her bandage couture, told me we were mink coat sisters & got all american-psycho with the coffee pot. An increasingly downtrodden, dark noir where every bit-player chews up their one-minute scene like they're gunning for Oscars as to avoid death via a rogue Ford punch or stray car bomb.
Fabulous, dirty, double-crossing noir. Two plot points are so shocking and unexpected that, unusually for a noir, the viewer becomes emotionally invested in the characters, and the story really kicks in for modern audiences. Gloria Grahame steals the show as the classic moll done wrong - very, very wrong.