Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 21:45


André De Toth


Friday 28/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

André De Toth shot one of the grittiest and best crime pictures of the 50s in 13 days on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Ex-con Gene Nelson and his wife Phyllis Kirk want to go straight, but a gang of prison escapees comes knocking, immediately bringing Detective Sims to their door. Hayden plays this cynical, hardened cop just as he had played hoodlum Dix Handley in The Asphalt Jungle. He doesn’t condone beatings, but has no qualms about using human beings as bait for the escaped hoods, and ruining their lives.
De Toth pushed Bert Glennon to shoot in a highly kinetic guerilla style reminiscent of Joseph H. Lewis’ Gun Crazy. He introduced newcomers such as Charles (not yet Bronson) Buchinsky and Timothy Carey, who can be seen hamming it up and blowing smoke rings like a Cheyenne, even if De Toth tried to keep him safely in the background.
Ex-tap dancer Gene Nelson is neatly cast against type, and Hayden excels at his cop part, constantly chewing a toothpick – a prop that fascinated Jean-Pierre Melville (see Jean Dessailly in Le Doulos). Hayden was not sure he could chew and deliver his lines at the same time. De Toth: “Sims chews the pick because he’s trying to stop smoking. Hayden had a drinking problem, and was uncomfortable in front of the camera. I used this. He was bothered by the pick, just as he was bothered about ruining these people’s lives. When he does that one human thing at the end, he pulls a cigarette and lights it. When he realizes it, he crumples it and smiles for the first time in the movie”.

Philippe Garnier

Cast and Credits

T. alt.: The City Is Dark. Sog.: dal racconto Criminal’s Mark (1950) di John e Ward Hawkins. Scen.: Crane Wilbur, Bernard Gordon, Richard Wormser. F.: Bert Glennon. M.: Thomas Reilly. Scgf.: Stanley Fleischer. Mus.: David Buttolph. Int.: Sterling Hayden (detective tenente Sims), Gene Nelson (Steve Lacey), Phyllis Kirk (Ellen Lacey), Ted de Corsia (‘Doc’ Penny), Charles Buchinsky [Bronson] (Ben Hastings), Jay Novello (Otto Hessler), Nedrick Young (Gat Morgan), James Bell (Daniel O’Keefe), Dub Taylor (Gus Snider), Timothy Carey (Johnny Haslett). Prod.: Bryan Foy per Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.. DCP. D.: 74’. Bn.