Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Nick (John Garfield) is a small-time crook still living with his mother who still pesters him about getting out of the apartment and finding a job. He and his buddy Al (Norman Lloyd) rob a payroll truck, a job which should be easy but which they mess up, resulting in Al getting wounded, a security guard getting killed, and Nick running away with a satchel full of money. He winds up hiding out at a public pool where, to look less suspicious, he chats up Peg (Shelley Winters). She is clearly taken with him, though he sees her more as a convenient way out of trouble. He escorts her home where she lives with her mother, father, and little brother, and winds up staying with Peg while the rest of the family goes to the movies. Later that evening, when he discovers that Al has ratted him out, a paranoid Nick holds the family at gunpoint, insisting on holing up with them indefinitely until he can think of a way out. This noir is known mainly as John Garfield's last movie; he died the year after its release at the age of 39 of heart disease, though many believe that the hounding of the House Un-American Activities Committee hastened his death. This is not his best movie, though he is excellent in it, as he almost always was. Despite a title that promises action, the bulk of the film after the first 15 minutes is set in Peg's family's apartment. Although the possibility of claustrophobic tension exists, I felt the movie went slack too often. But the interplay between the thuggish but not evil Garfield and the innocent but not naïve Winters saves the day. She clearly falls for him, and he's clearly using her for protection, but their feelings do change over the two nights he spends in the apartment. Wallace Ford is very good as Winters' father who desperately wants to keep his family safe. Gladys George has a nice couple of scenes as Garfield's unsympathetic mother. Not essential viewing, but interesting. [DVD]

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