Tuesday, December 27, 2011

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950)

Dana Andrews is a tough cop, a little too tough for his superiors; he has a reputation for acts of what today would be police brutality, and after his latest scuffle, he's knocked down a rank to second grade detective. His latest case involves a Texas oil man (Harry von Zell) who was brought into a crap game by lovely Gene Tierney, doing a favor for her thug husband Craig Stevens. The oil man loses a lot of money, then starts winning. When he decides to leave the game, Stevens' boss (Gary Merrill) isn’t happy. Stevens slaps Tierney around, blaming her for not getting the oil man to stay. When von Zell steps in to be a gentleman, he and Stevens get into a fight. Fade out to next morning when von Zell is found dead. Andrews fingers Stevens and winds up slugging him a bit too hard, killing Stevens. Andrews panics and tries to make it look like Stevens left town, then when his body is found, tries to frame Merrill, but circumstances lead to Tierney's father being arrested for the murder. To make matters stickier, Andrews has started dating Tierney.

This is a nice little film noir that in the wrap-up lets everyone off a little too easily. There is a deep dark psychological reason given eventually for Andrews' problems, in particular his desire to see Merrill fry, but after spending two-thirds of the film painting Andrews as a dark anti-hero, things lighten up a little too much and some of the impact of the first half of the film is lost. Still, Andrews (pictured) is fine as the good cop/bad cop, Merrill does a nice job as the cocky hood, and Karl Malden, in an early featured role, plays Andrews' newly promoted boss. Tierney isn't given a lot to do besides look lovely, which she does. Ruth Donnelly has a nice bit (in a Thelma Ritter mold) as a café owner who dotes on Andrews and tries her best to advance his romance with Tierney. Neville Brand stands out as a creepy little crook. A solid noir melodrama with the right look and, for at least half its running time, the right feel. [FMC]

2 comments:

Darth Dean said...

Andrews usually delivers.

Gloria Penalosa said...

Nice review- Love the movie! Dana Andrews' look as the classic gumshoe with the way he wears his fedora trenchcoat and cig. is unbeatable...