Left alone when his family leaves town to visit relatives, professor Edward G. Robinson hangs out at his club with his two cronies, one of whom is DA Raymond Massey. He is fascinated by a striking portrait of a young woman, and one night, leaving the club late and alone, he runs into the portraitâ€™s model (Joan Bennett). Though he knows better, he accompanies her back to her apartment. A jealous lover bursts in and attacks Robinson, who murders him in self-defense. Panicked by the situation, Bennett and Robinson cover up the event, but both the authorities and a blackmailer circle closer and closer.
Robinson is magnificent as a basically decent man whose one lapse in judgment leads him to catastrophe. His eyes radiate a desperate desire to turn back the clock, and the audience squirms along with him. Bennettâ€™s character is interesting as the unintentional femme fatale: she never has any desire to cause trouble for Robinson. Director Fritz Lang holds the audience in a lethal grasp, which never loosens in the slightest until the unfortunate cop-out ending.
This release is very much on par with the other recent MGM noir offerings. The mono sound is warm, strong and undistorted. The dialogue is clear, and background static is kept to an absolute minimum. There is really nothing here to interfere with the enjoyment of the film, and a stereo remix is not necessary in the slightest.
The picture is excellent. There is no real grain, and the print is in excellent condition, with no damage to speak of. The black-and-white tones are superb and very moody â€“ this is a noir in every sense of the word, and looks a treat. The image is very sharp. All in all, another vintage film given a fine presentation.
The ending is troublesome, and will split viewers. But the movie is so magnificent until that moment that it demands viewing.