Taken from Ernest Hemingway’s story of the same title, picture is a hard-hitting example of forthright melodrama in the best Hemingway style.
Performances without exception are top quality. It’s a handpicked cast that troupes to the hilt to make it all believable. Film introduces Burt Lancaster from legit. He does a strong job, serving as the central character around whom the plot revolves. Edmond O’Brien, insurance investigator who probes Lancaster’s murder, is another pivotal character who adds much to the film’s acting polish. Ava Gardner is the bad girl of the piece.
Plot opens with Lancaster’s murder in a small town. O’Brien takes it from there, trying to piece together events that will prove the murder of smalltown service station attendant has more significance than appears on the surface. Story has many flashbacks, told when O’Brien interviews characters in Lancaster’s past, but it is all pieced together neatly for sustained drive and mood, finishing with expose of a colossal double-cross. Every character has its moment to shine and does.
Hellinger assured a music score that would heighten mood of this one by using Miklos Rozsa, and the score is an immeasurable aid in furthering suspense.
1946: Nominations: Best Director, Screenplay, Editing, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture