This film marked the debut of Burt Lancaster, who made his debut in this film as the Swede, only to get bumped off in the first few minutes by the titular characters, who tracked him down living in Brentwood. Not Brentwood, Maryland or England, I trust, but who knows?
In any case, Jim Reardon (played by Edmund O’Brien) is an insurance investigator trying to find Swede’s life insurance beneficiaries. In doing so, he discovers what happened to the Swede and tells his story in a flashback that makes up most of the movie’s plot.
Unfortunately for Swede, he was a boxer whose career was shot to hell when he hurt his right hand. He falls in with a bad crowd, dumps his nice girlfriend, and winds up with the femme fatale, Kitty Collins. This poor chunkhead loves Kitty so much, he takes the fall for her crime and serves time in prison.
Once the Swede get out, he ends up mixed up with a big robbery scheme. Without going into all the details, the Swede and Kitty double cross them all. Then, each other.
And here are some of the cool lines:
Jim Reardon: “She took a powder. The dough went with her.”
Jim Reardon: “How much time has he got?”
Lieutenant Sam Lubinsky: “He’s behind schedule now.”
Lieutenant Sam Lubinsky: “Don’t ask a dying man to lie his soul into Hell.”
Big Jim Colfax: “If there’s one thing in this world I hate, it’s a double-crossing dame.”
This movie came out during film noir’s peak years. It well deserves two thumbs up!
PS: If the names Reardon, the Swede, and Kitty Collins sound familiar, it might be because you’ve seen this great film noir parody!