Where the Sidewalk Ends

Tagline : Only a woman's heart could reach out for such a man!

Runtime : 95 mins

Genre : Crime Drama Thriller

Vote Rating : 7.2/10


Reviews for this movie are available below.

Plot : A police detective's violent nature keeps him from being a good cop.

Cast Members

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Reviews

Your job is to detect criminals, not to punish them. American city film noir directed by Otto Preminger with the screenplay written by Ben Hecht. The adaptation is from the novel "Night Cry" written by William L. Stuart and Joseph LaShelle provides the cinematography for the New York City shoot. It stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Bert Freed, Tom Tully & Karl Malden, with support coming from Ruth Donnelly, Craig Stevens & Neville Brand. Tough New York cop Mark Dixon (Andrews) is constantly in trouble with his superiors for his heavy-handed treatment of suspects. When disaster strikes during an altercation with Ken Paine (Stevens), Dixon chooses an unethical route and attempts to frame a gangster nemesis called Tommy Scalise (Merill). However, things don't go according to plan and not only does Dixon find himself falling in love with Paine's wife, Morgan Taylor-Paine (Tierney), but also that he is now mired in a quagmire investigation which sees Morgan's father, Jiggs (Tully), accused of the crime he himself is responsible for. Where The Sidewalk Ends was the final film noir piece that Preminger made for 20th Century Fox in the 1940s. Then a director for hire, the film sees Preminger re-teamed with Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Joseph LaShelle, Ben Hecht and art director Lyle Wheeler, all of whom produced the excellent "Laura" in 1944. Whilst linking the two films together is understandable given the makers and the genre/style involved, the two are very different movies. Which to my mind makes a mockery of some critics looking unfavourably on "Sidewalk" because of the regard "Laura" is held. "Sidewalk" is more grittier, more violent and certainly darker (this is one troubled chip on the shoulder copper), in short this is big city noir and some way away from the socialite leanings of the more glossy "Laura". There's a lot of quality involved here. Preminger astutely paces the story and manages to make Dixon sympathetic, thus fully doing justice to Hecht's tough and tight script that unravels in a world of cop shops, cafés, street side apartments and underworld hang-outs. All of which is given the perfect low-key (almost seedy) photographic treatment by the always visually appealing LaShelle. The cast, too, are doing great work. Tierney is a beguiling beauty throughout, something that works off of Andrews' more chiselled featured and emotionally conflicted portrayal rather well. It's arguably one of Andrews' best & most convincing performances, for Dixon carries around with him much pain and bitterness due to his father having been a criminal. In a perverse bit of writing, Dixon essentially finds himself investigating himself, throw in a burgeoning romance with sharp kickers attached, and, shades of patricide, then it's a character in need of depth. Andrews steps up to the plate and layers it to perfection to give noir one of its finest policeman protagonists. The rest are effective, particularly Malden, Merrill and Brand, the latter of which is the tough guy actor who isn't William Bendix! If we have to pick flies? Then the ending carriers some Hollywoodisation baggage, and there's some implausibilities within the story. But really neither of those things stop the film from being the riveting offering that it is. So get out on that sidewalk with Dixon and see just what awaits us, and him, after Preminger has taken us for a murky stroll. 8/10

"Dixon" (Dana Andrews) is an hard-nosed cop who likes to play by his own rules. Needless to say that puts him at odds with his superiors and ultimately leads to his demotion just as his contemporary "Thomas" (Karl Malden) is made lieutenant. Whilst all this disarray is distracting the police, criminal mastermind "Scalise" (Gary Merrill) is out to fleece wealthy sucker "Morrison" at a dice game but things at the game get a bit fraught and soon they have that man's body to contend with. "Dixon" likes to investigate with his fists and that leads him to a tragedy of his own, with even more complications as he is gradually falling in love with "Morgan" (Gene Tierney) who just happens to be a widow intricately connected with our story. We know who the culprits are, and we know who did what to whom - what helps this to work well is the way we are invited by Otto Preminger to take a perspective watching how the characters all deduce and find out. It's a violent story in a violent city and in the end you begin to wonder if the end does/did justify the means as the cat and mouse game nears it's lively finale. None of the actors here really stand out, but I think that works better at creating a genuine sense of teamwork (amongst the cops and the gang) and the dialogue is sparing enough to let the frequent action do most of the heavy lifting. It's got a grittiness to it that I felt added authenticity to this story of petty criminality and ruthlessness and I did enjoy watching it.

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