This is another one of those films noir in which the main character accidentally kills someone, but insists on keeping it a secret, because he’s sure no one will believe his side of the story.
In this case, our (anti)hero is Police Detective Dixon known for having all the diplomacy and finesse of Dirty Harry (before such tactics became weirdly heroic in the early 70s), which has led to a demotion. He’s played by Dana Andrews, who I always thought looked a little too nice to play a bad guy.
Basically, Dixon defends himself against a drunken suspect named Paine, oblivious to the fact that the guy has a metal plate in his head, not to mention a stellar war record and a few friends in high places (if that’s what you would call members of the press).
So Dixon tries to place the blame on a gangster nemesis, but accidentally implicates a cab driver named Jiggs Taylor (Tom Tully). This becomes a genuine pain in the ass for Dixon, because he’s fallen in love with Jiggs’ daughter, who also happens to be Paine’s estranged wife, Morgan Taylor-Paine (the awesome Gene Tierney). Talk about inconvenient.
One of the good things about this film is its early depiction of the gritty and dark side of police work, but with sympathy for the plight of the man simply trying to do his job. Andrews plays the part with the requisite combination of toughness and vulnerability. This doesn’t quite make up for the monologue of backstory Dixon must deliver at the end, in which he explains that his dad was a criminal.
This is also a film noir which, unlike so many, ends on a redemptive—even hopeful—note.
While not a perfect film, I’d give this one at least one thumbs up! 🙂