Tuesday, February 03, 2015


Good cop Bert (Robert Shayne) goes after bad cop Ray (Paul Langton) who has been holed up in a roadside motel after running off with convicted murderess Eden Lane (Barbara Payton). When Bert finds Ray, Eden's not there, but Ray begs Bert to give him 24 hours to try and clear up the mess his life has become. In an extended flashback, we see Ray investigating the murder of businessman Frank Dean, found in his home, his head and hands burned beyond recognition in his fireplace. Eden, his mistress, works at a cheap nightclub with her roomie Patsy, but Eden is already on the run, having hopped a bus to an isolated and snowbound mountain cabin. Ray catches up with her and takes her back to L.A. where she is found guilty of murder. When Ray escorts her on a train to prison, she looks out the window at a small-town stop and insists she sees the supposedly dead Frank Dean, alive and well. Ray believes her; the two of them jump off the train and go back to the small town to figure out what's up. Eventually Ray and Eden become romantically involved, but one day she vanishes. When Bert hears this story, he agrees to give Ray one day, and helps him to track down the truth.

This B-noir from director Edgar G. Ulmer is more accomplished in terms of script, production and acting than his classic no-budget film DETOUR but it doesn't pack the punch of that earlier movie. Still, this is worth seeing as a classic noir narrative. Langton (pictured with Payton) is just about perfect as the weary, dogged cop who may or may not be truly out for justice—or maybe he's just blinded by lust. Payton's real-life story—abuse, public fights, drugs, an arrest for shoplifting—could have come out of a noir movie, but she's very good here, basically at the end of her career. The low budget does have some liabilities—there are many scenes of people dialing phones, and dialogue-heavy scenes that convey information rather than action shots. But the sequence of Langton trudging through a snowstorm to get to Payton's cabin was clearly filmed during a real snowstorm, resulting in perhaps the most realistic snow scene ever outside of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Recommended for noir fans. [Warner Archive Instant]

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