As regular readers of Gaslight Crime will know I have a passion for film noir. And there are few better examples of the genre than Otto Preminger’s classic 1950 picture “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.
Set in New York, cop Mark Dixon has been reprimanded for being rough with suspects. Dixon is a man who is handy with his fists, never quite managing to throw off a dubious and criminal family background. His father was a thief.
During the course of the movie, Dixon – acting in self-defence – accidentally kills a suspect. The film deals in great detail with how Dixon – desperate to save his career – disposes of the body and tries to throw the blame for the death elsewhere.
To complicate matters Dixon falls for the dead man’s wife (Tierney), and then has to try to protect her when his boss (a terrific early performance by Karl Malden) tries to put her father in the frame for the killing.
In the meantime, Dixon’s own life is threatened by the gangster Scalise (Gary Merrill – surely one of the best, yet most underrated actors in Hollywood).
Dixon’s attempts to defeat Scalise, in a very personal feud, leads to the exciting climax.
The photography in this film (black and white, please always resist colourisation!) is truly wonderful, giving a terrific impression of – usually rainy – New York streets. Preminger’s direction is spot on, a great director working from Ben Hecht’s literate and moving script.
So is Dixon role in a man’s death found out? Well, see it for yourself and find out if the film is new to you. And if you haven’t seen it for a while please do revisit the noir masterpiece.
You can get it on DVD either on its own or in a box set with other great examples of film noir.