Story is a forthright, uncompromising presentation of evil, greedy people and human weaknesses. Characters are sharply drawn in the Robert Rossen script, based on Jack Patrick’s original story [Love Lies Bleed ing], and Lewis Milestone’s direction punches home the melodrama for full suspense and excitement.
Prolog opening [in 1928] establishes the murder of a bullying aunt by her young niece. Deed is witnessed by the son of the girl’s tutor, but is blamed on an unknown prowler. Coverup moves the tutor and son into a position of power in the girl’s household. Story then picks up 18 years later with the accidental return to the town of another of the girl’s childhood friends. Return panics Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas, now grown up and married, who fear the friend was also a witness of the early killing.
Character portrayed by Stanwyck is evil and she gives it a high-caliber delineation. Douglas makes his weakling role interesting, showing up strongly among the more experienced players. Best performance honors, though, are divided between Heflin and Scott, latter as a Heflin pickup.
1946: Nomination: Best Original Story