***** out of 5
Wow. What a great one! I can't believe this is the first time I ever got to see this movie. It won't be the last.
Everything about it is well-crafted. It isn't necessarily "realistic," but then it isn't meant to be, either. Like all the best noir films, it takes the grim attitudes of its post-war audiences, melts them down, and saturates it with darkness and shadow, and crafts it into a masterpiece of heightened tension and drama, full of potent symbolism & imagery, operatic passions, unflinching depiction of man's darkest depravities, and sends its characters into the inescapable whirlpool of fate , rendering them to the cold mercilessness of consequences of their own actions.
The actors in this film are uniformly excellent, with several standouts. John Garfield is his usual restless drifter character that he played so well in so many films, Lana Turner is running on about
50,000 gigawatts of star power in a role that is probably the best of her career (as far as I've seen so far), and Cecil Kellaway as her poor schlub of a husband gives outstanding support to the film. As the ruthlessly competitive lawyers, Hume Cronyn and Leon Ames dominate their screentime, even over the charismatic leads, Garfield and Turner. Oh, and Fred Flintstine is in this too- Alan Reed, that is, playing an investigator for Cronyn, who decided to branch out into the blackmail business. Noir favorite Audrey Totter even makes an appearance, in an all-too-brief scene as The Other Woman.