(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)
It’s a dame, of course. In film-noir, it’s always a dame.
Detective Ray Patrick (Paul Langton) has literally trekked through a mountain of snow to bring in a murder suspect, Eden Lane (Barbara Peyton). He brings her in, the case against her is air-tight, and Ray’s detective work earns kudos for his department. But of course, Ray isn’t satisfied, because he thinks the dame got a bum deal in court just to close the case.
As it so happens, Ray is chosen to escort Eden to her prison sentence on a train ride. And as it even more so happens, Eden looks out the window and just happens to see the very man she’s been accused of murdering. Of course, Ray’s first instinct is to believe that Eden is pulling a stunt to get out of her prison rap. But Eden sobs and continues to plead her innocence. And, well, hey…if you were a lonely cop, and you were hired to keep tabs on a prisoner who purrs and looks like Barbara Peyton, how long would it be before you melted into a puddle on your passenger seat?
This is a taut and very satisfying film-noir thriller. Director Edgar G. Ulmer, who made his noir reputation a decade earlier with the almost existential Detour, seems to have finally fought faintly the old ennui and relaxes a little here. Not to give too much away, but he and screenwriter Aubrey Wisberg find it in themselves to give their toughened characters a bit of humanity, which helps the audience to extend a lot of goodwill towards this movie’s Detour-like low budget.
Visit Murder Is My Beat to enjoy its allegiance to noir tropes, and stay for the surprising stake you’ll end up having in its bad-luck-ridden characters.