Drama | Mystery
Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Bert Freed, Tom Tully, Karl Malden, Ruth Donnelly, Craig Stevens
A tough New York City police detective, Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) is already in trouble with his superiors for his brutal tactics when he accidentally kills a murder suspect. To protect himself, he decides to cover it up and pin the killing on gangster Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill).
Thanks to the excellent direction by Otto Preminger and some good performances, "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a simple, yet effective and excellent Film Noir.
I was unaware what the film was about when I started to watch it. I only knew it was a Film Noir, no clue about the plot. I understood where the film was going pretty soon, and I got astonished by how simple the story was yet managed to keep the tension high from beginning to end.
The film focuses on the metropolis from the very beginning -- with some masterful opening credits written on the sidewalk -- and the city and its noises are always there, as if the metropolis was the real star of the story.
Director Otto Preminger wonderfully balanced the plot points, but it all comes down to the moral implication surrounding the characters. Needless to say Preminger excellently captures the squalid side of life by showing the main characters beating one another -- even their women --, gambling, and more actions of dubious morality.
The superb lighting plays a huge role into the story, adding more thrills to those already there; the night cityscapes give the film an air of menace; Joseph LaShelle, director of photography, really did a wonderful job.
Dana Andrews is really convincing in the role of Mark Dixon, a trouble cop torn up by his past and on a path of self-destruction, and captures the essence of the character. Gene Tierney, even though she looks a little too elegant for the girl she's playing and doesn't seem to fit the squalid story, does alright, but isn't much more than a love interest. Gary Merrill does a fine job as gangster Tommy Scalise, but he doesn't seem mean enough for the role.