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James Cagney generates much of the energy in this 1950 noir; as Ralph Cotter, a wild hoodlum, he kills his hesitant companion during a jailbreak and then blackmails a corrupt police inspector (Ward Bond) while staging ever riskier holdups. Cagney is intense as usual, and Bond is admirably restrained in contrast, but the film is disorganized, episodic, and often psychologically unconvincing. Gordon Douglas's direction is almost incoherent compared to Raoul Walsh's in White Heat (1949), which features Cagney in a similar role; the compositions and camera movements, while momentarily effective, have little relationship to each other, and the film reads a bit like an orchestra playing without a conductor. With Barbara Payton, Luther Adler, and Helena Carter.

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