1947 was Anthony Mann’s break-out year for film noir. He would improve but this one is quite OK with some classic use of the style.
Steve Randall (Steve Brodie) is a happy newly wed who is about to celebrate his four-month anniversary with wife Anne (Audrey Long). She has confided in a neighbor that she will announce her pregnancy at dinner that night. Then Steve gets a call from a “friend” offering him a trucking job at a wage he can’t refuse. When he gets to the location he finds out that the job is as getaway driver for a heist being organized by tough guy Walt Radak (Raymond Burr). Radak’s little brother Al begs to go along for the first time. Steve attempts to alert the police and Al kills a policeman during a scuffle. He is hauled off to jail.
Walt threatens Steve with harm to Anne if Steve does not turn himself into the police for the murder. Instead, Steve takes Anne on the lam. Al is eventually sentenced to the death penalty.
When Steve gets Anne settled with her relatives in the country, he finally does report his involvement to police inspector Louis Ferrari (Jason Robards Sr.), who does not believe his tale. He lets Steve go anyway in hopes he will lead him to ringleader Radak. Now Steve and Anne find themselves relentlessly pursued by both the police and the bad guys.
The movie is only 75-minutes long but manages to lose steam between its dynamic opening and tense closing. As usual the best thing about it is Raymond Burr’s intensely menacing villain. Robards Senior is also very good as the sarcastic cop. There are some really masterful flourishes in the camerawork.
Clip – check out that swinging lightbulb. You don’t get much more classic noir than this.