Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- John Garfield Films
- Shelley Winters Films
While not particularly unique in terms of narrative or characterization, this little thriller nonetheless holds a special place in HUAC-era film history: Garfield — who admitted to membership in the Community Party but refused to “name names” — died of coronory thrombosis at the age of 39, after this film’s release; many believe the stress he was under contributed to his premature death. In addition, notorious blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo co-wrote the script, which includes some zingy lines of dialogue (“Get the dandruff out of your blood!”) and a fair amount of tension. Perhaps most effective, however, is James Wong Howe’s stunning cinematography: his use of dramatic lighting and depth-of-field add visual interest to the story at all times, even when the narrative falters.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- John Garfield’s effectively paranoid portrayal as a fugitive who’s not quite sure who he can trust, but who longs to belong somewhere
- Shelley Winters as Garfield’s apprehensive love interest
- Atmospheric cinematography by James Wong Howe
- Good use of unusual New York locales
Yes, for its significance in film history.