Vittorio Candella (Victor Mature) grew up on the tough streets of New York and became a police lieutenant. His childhood friend was not so lucky -- Marty Rome (Richard Conte) became a violent petty crook and a cop killer and is now in a prison hospital ward, riddled with bullets. Marty's sleazy lawyer, W. A. Niles (Berry Kroeger), wants Marty to confess to a different crime, thereby clearing himself of the murder charge, but Marty refuses. Candella must check out the lawyer's allegation, but as a close friend of the Rome family, must walk a careful tightrope. Marty is afraid that Candella might implicate his girlfriend, Teena Riconti (Debra Paget, in her screen debut) and Marty will do anything to protect Teena. thrown into the mix is Tony (Tommy Cook), Marty's kid brother, who is just on the cusp of becoming a hoodlum -- or will he take the straight and narrow path. Marty is pushing Tony toward the bad side.
Also in the better than average cast are Shelley Winters, Fred Clark, Hope Emerson (Mother on Peter Gunn), Roland winters (Charlie Chan in five movies), Betty Garde (Caged, Call Northside 777, and various roles in nearly forty television programs from 1949 to 1971), and Walter Baldwin (Grandpappy Miller in Green Acres and Petticoat Junction).
Director Robert Siodmak has made a visually stunning, nuanced film that is a classic of film noir.
Based on Henry Edward Helseth's novel The Chair for Martin Rome, the film's script was credited to Richard Murphy. It was an open secret that this was one of many films Ben Hecht (The Front Page) served as an uncredited writer.
A nifty film that deserves to be better recognized.