Obsessed with putting the pinch on a big time hood, Detective Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) sometimes steps over the line. When investigating the murder of a whale, he accidentally bumps off the suspect. He covers up his mistake and becomes infatuated with a witness (Gene Tierney).
Based on the novel Cry Night and not the Shel Silverstein poem, we are treated to a dangerously unstable protagonist. Demoted for shaking down suspects, he seethes with anger and daddy issues. Tierney’s Morgan is the sweet girl with a taste for bad men. Both starred in 1944’s Laura and their characters share some similarities.
Gary Merrill is our decongestant-addicted mister big. He played a very different character this same year in All About Eve. There he got his comeuppance when he decided to marry Bette Davis. In real life, that is. What was he thinking? Smooth, smart, and ruthless, he makes for an excellent villain. Karl Malden is the straight-laced detective, but let’s talk about screenwriter Ben Hecht.
Hecht has writing credits on 135 films (according to IMDb) ranging from Hitchcock to horror, Marx Brothers to Gone With the Wind. He had his hands on so many films, so many great films (and some stinkers too) that he deserves his own keyword. I’ll need to find a bio of him someplace. His characters are rich and the dialog rings true. He has two academy awards and four other nominations.
With attitude and atmosphere, Where the Sidewalk Ends is an excellent film. Again, well written background characters leave an impact. The diner owner almost deserves a film of her own. Not often recognized in the top of the genre, it deserves to be in the conversation. It is better than some that are. AMRU 4.
“Look at ya! You're all bunged up like a barrelhouse vag!”