Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran star in this modest, but promising little Warner Brothers’ noir that unfortunately falls apart in the last ten minutes.
Cochran plays an ex-con who was sentenced for murdering (it sounds like justifiably) his awful father when he was thirteen (13)—and he has been locked up for eighteen (18) years and finally gets out. In true noir tradition, the outside world is pretty much as bad as being in prison.
Ruth Roman is introduced from the legs up – she’s a platinum blonde here.
There is a great frame at the 26-minute mark- a pivotal scene. In the foreground center of the screen is the back of the head of George in close up (played by Hugh Sanders)- practically sitting on each shoulder in the background are Roman and Cochran. She is shoulder right and he is shoulder left. George is the “patsy who pays the rent” for Roman’s character.
Cochran’s “I’m a dead pigeon” delivery noir despair as she pins the murder on him. There are just two dancing heads in the frame during this scene at the house of the brother of Roman’s character. When her brother and his wife come out at the 36-minute part there are four bodies in the frame blocking each other. It is a nice few minutes of cinema.
Roman is best known for Strangers on a Train (same year actually- 1951). Cochran is in White Heat a few years before (1949).
There is a very decent nearly silent sequence of the two on the run escaping a diner and climbing up a double-decker truck. She colors her hair brunette.
Noir fatalism- Cochran’s character is basically framed and thrust into this mousetrap. “I had a better bunk when I was inside”.
The film slows down at the lettuce farm.
Through the entire film the tone is dire—the set of circumstances up against Cochran’s character is almost too much—and then—with the flick of an unearned switch, the film swells up into a mushroom cloud of good luck at the end… unfortunate.
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