The FBI, determined to crack a gangland case involving two murders, sends undercoveragent Mark Stevens to the mean streets. Posing as a lowlife, he is recruited by sinister crime bossRichard Widmark. Stevens soon discovers that Widmark is indeed the man responsible for thekillings, but he needs concrete evidence before the FBI can move in. Meanwhile, Widmark hasan agent of his own in the ranks of the police, and Stevens’ cover may soon be blown.
The opening minutes …ight make viewers wonder why this is included in a Noir series: itssemi-documentary tone with urgent voice-of-God narrator appear to be setting up a fairlystandard police procedural, complete with submissive awe for the saintly and all-powerful FBI.But once Widmark, following up his psychotic debut in Kiss of Death, is on the scene,the film becomes almost pure Noir. Hypochondriac, brutal, sexually ambiguous and brilliant,Widmark’s character is the dark heart of the film, and what had been merely interesting beforehis arrival becomes powerfully suspenseful. The basic premise of the film turns up again inHouse of Bamboo.
The usual Fox choice between 2.0 stereo and original mono is present here. The stereo remixis fairly typical. While there are some issues with voices slipping into surround mode, thisproblem isn’t as noticeable as it is on some tracks. There is some hiss in the background, butgenerally the sound is clean and clear.
The film is from 1948, but the print looks like it’s from 1933. There is a fair bit of damage,mostly in the form of guitar strings. There is some flickering going on too, some of it bad enoughto disrupt the blacks. The picture is certainly sharp and watchable, but hardly restored.
Historians James Ursini and Alain Silver do their usual sterling work on the commentary,deftly and wittily filling us in on the movie and its contexts. The theatrical trailer is, apart fromads for other Fox releases, the only other extra. The menu is basic.
A fine film, especially thanks to Widmark. Good commentary too, but the print is a bit of aproblem.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer