Where the Sidewalk Ends 1950 (1950) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon wants to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But Dixon's vicious nature will get the better of him. Runtime: 95 mins Release Date: 15 Sep 1950
Despite the lack of a haunting theme song and the austere and humourous presence of Clifton Webb, this film is a much more exciting experience than "Laura", the other collaboration between Preminger, Andrews and Tierney. This is one of the grimmest film noir films I've ever seen, and not just in its lurid shadows and rain-drenched streets. The film is dark to its very soul. Dana Andrews plays what is now a standard stereotype: the cop who is bitter and deadly with his temper. But Andrews plays it with more honesty and humanity than most any other angry movie cop you're <more>
likely to see. Despite the fact that his character is good at heart, he is also a criminal and a killer, and the film beautifully strings him along, forcing him to serve his spiritual penance. What of course is most fun is the way that his terror over being discovered slowly comes to a boil. I've seen tons of film noir movies but I can't recall ever seeing the protagonist ever becoming the anti-hero in such a startling way. Many of the best film noir pics have that dizzying spiral theme of a man trapped by his own weakness. "Night in the City", "Detour", "Scarlet Street", "In a Lonely Place", "Act of Violence" and "Johnny Eager", are among the best of them. "Were the Sidewalk Ends" holds its own among them. Not a bad recommendation!
I'm a big fan of fan of film noir, and this film by Otto Preminger easily stands as one of the best that I've seen! Preminger has reunited two of his stars from the hit 'Laura' - Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, for an entirely different sort of crime film. Laura was based around love, and this film is based around hate; as we watch police detective Mark Dixon, a copper already suffering scrutiny from his superiors for his heavy handed tactics, accidentally kill a suspect and try to pin the murder on a known criminal; a man by the name of Tommy Scalisi. The plot is brilliantly <more>
worked, and Preminger excellently balances several plot points; but it all comes back down to the main moral implication surrounding our main character. The fact that the film is set in the criminal underground means that the plot is given an excellent base to work from, and director Otto Preminger expertly captures the sleazier side of life by showing the main characters gambling, beating one another and their women , shooting and more - and this also helps to offset the film from the earlier 'Laura', which was very much set in upper class society.The role of Mark Dixon gives Dana Andrews one of the most interesting parts of his career. Here, we have a character that is difficult to like as he's so cold - but the fact that we can understand his motives ensures that he's easy to sympathise with, and that allows the audience the ability to plug into his plight. The character development is well timed, and as we've follows this character and his motivations throughout the film; everything makes sense by the end. His co-star is the beautiful Gene Tierney, who isn't given as much to do in this film as she was in Laura; a film that made Tierney its linchpin. She does well with what she's got, however, and the lead duo's chemistry is excellent and Tierney helps to complete every scene she's in. I can't say that this is a better film than the earlier Laura; that's a hard act to follow, but this film certainly fits into the film noir formula better than Preminger's earlier film. The film also makes a good comparison piece for Laura; as just about everything in this film is opposite to the 1944 movie, yet it's all strangely familiar. Highly recommended to all!
Otto Preminger, completing a noir cycle at Twentieth Century Fox, reunited his "Laura" leads for this stark, gritty detective drama. Dana Andrews again portrays a cop, but this time he's hardened, cynical and has been accused of police brutality by his superior - "You don't hate hoods, you liked to beat them up!". Mark Dixon Andrews despises criminals, as his own father was a crook. He doesn't want to be "Sandy Dixon's kid" so he became a policeman, but his methods are harsh and hated.One night, investigating a murder, he unknowingly punches a <more>
suspect, Ken Paine Craig Stevens so hard that it kills him. A shaken Dixon does his best to cover it up, intending to frame a hated thug, Scalise Gary Merrill for the crime. However, the blame falls on Paine's father-in-law, Jiggs Taylor Tom Tully , whose daughter, department store model Morgan Taylor Tierney is estranged from her husband but keeps getting drawn into his gambling schemes. Paine had slapped his wife, enraging her father, who did show up at his son-in-law's apartment, but not until Dixon had departed with the body. With no better suspects, Jiggs is arrested and charged.Riddled with guilt, Mark falls for Morgan and offers money for an attorney. He decides to take on Scalise anyway but leaves a letter to be given to the department in the event of his death, confessing everything. In the end, he cannot live with the knowledge with what he has done, and he permits the letter to be read by his superior and by Morgan. Despite all the tragic circumstances, Morgan professes her love for Mark and will wait for him.It was great to find this film on DVD, after so many years of televised obscurity. Eddie Mueller, a film noir historian, provides the commentary and does a good job, but I find his assertion that audiences wouldn't have caught the significance of the casting of the two leads, since "Laura" had been made six years earlier. In that respect, he is mistaken because they had appeared in "The Iron Curtain" two years prior to WTSE and the film was a box-office success.Andrews and Tierney were fabulous together, and Ruth Donnelly is tremendous comic relief as restaurant owner Martha, fanning the flames between the detective and the dame.The night cityscapes give the film an air of menace. Gary Merrill is great as the low-life Scalise, who had a criminal past with Dixon's dad "Your father liked me," he taunts Mark . Karl Malden and a young Neville Brand are terrific also. And Tom Tully is just touching and funny as Morgan's unjustly accused pop.A watchable film noir with a fantastic cast.
Dana Andrews: Noir's haunted conscience (by imogensara_smith)
We're a long way from LAURA. Once again Otto Preminger directs, Dana Andrews stars as a police detective named Mark, and Gene Tierney is the beautiful woman who haunts him, but nothing else about WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS resembles everyone's favorite sophisticated murder mystery. Instead of deliciously quotable dialogue we get gritty, harrowing realism. While the earlier film took place in the ritzy upper echelons of New York society, here we're in the low-rent district of dark streets, hoodlums, cheap restaurants and crummy flats. Tierney, gorgeous as ever, now works as a <more>
department-store mannequin and lives in Washington Heights the neighborhood of the "doll" who once got a fox fur out of LAURA's Mark McPherson . This time Andrews is Mark Dixon, an older, sadder, more troubled version of the cool cop in a trench coat. WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS belongs to a sub-genre of noir, movies about police brutality focusing on cops who can't control their violent impulses. Like Kirk Douglas's character in DETECTIVE STORY, Dixon owes his seething contempt for crooks to his father's criminal past. Where Douglas is self-righteous and blind to his own faults, Andrews is burdened by repressed guilt and self-loathing. He accidentally kills a suspect and covers up his actions with an attempt to throw suspicion on a slimy gangster Gary Merrill whom he has been vainly pursuing for years. Instead, a kindly cab driver is suspected because he's the father of the dead man's estranged and mistreated wife Morgan Gene Tierney . Dixon, falling in love with the wife of the man he killed, tries desperately to save her father without giving himself away. Among noir protagonists, Dana Andrews had this distinction: he was incapable of appearing unintelligent. Even when playing an average Joe, as he usually did, he always comes across as unusually sensitive and perceptive; more than that, his air of being too thoughtful for his own comfort gives him that haunted--and haunting--quality that was his essence as an actor. He played ordinary guys, cops and soldiers, but always with a tragic undercurrent of seeing and knowing too much. His conscientious heroes are marked by exhaustion, guilt, the inability ever to "lighten up." No other actor could have expressed so well the bottled-up anger, the slow-burning pain, the agonized intelligence of Mark Dixon. He also has a muted tenderness, a muffled warmth and even wry humor that make him heartbreaking. This comes out when he takes Morgan to a restaurant where he's a regular, and for the first time we see this cold, brutal man trading mock insults with the waitress, whose sarcasm can't hide her affection and concern for him. When Dixon asks his partner for money to get a lawyer for Morgan's father, he supplies it even though they recently argued and Dixon threw a punch at him. There are no words about loyalty or knowing he's a good guy deep down, but we see it all in the man's anguished silence and his wife's resignation as she hands over some jewelry to pawn. Dixon's goodness comes across through other people's reactions to him as much as through Andrews's deeply moving performance. Though Dana Andrews was a minor star, he may be the quintessential forties man. He goes through some movies hardly ever taking off his overcoat; with that boxy, mid-century silhouette, further fortified by the fedora, the glass of bourbon, the cigarette he doesn't take out of his mouth when he talks, he looks imprisoned in the masculine ideal of toughness and impassivity. While many noirs romanticize the two-fisted tough guy, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS offers an unflinching portrait of the reality behind the façade, a gripping and melancholy exploration of the roots and consequences of violence.Andrews was sadly underrated in his own time he was the only one of the three protagonists in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES not nominated for an Academy Award, though his low-key performance is far more compelling than Frederic March's hammy, Oscar-winning drunk . Fortunately, Andrews appeared in some films that ensured his immortality, and now at last this little-known film, which contains his best performance, can be seen as part of the marvelous Fox Film Noir set. This series, including a number of never before released titles such as NIGHTMARE ALLEY and THIEVES' HIGHWAY , suggests that Twentieth-Century-Fox may have had the finest record of all the major studios when it came to film noir.
Preminger's grittier Big Apple tale fully the equal of his vaunted Laura (by bmacv)
In Where The Sidewalk Ends, Otto Preminger reunites Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, surely in hopes of recapturing the magic of his Laura. But they're wildly dissimilar films, set in different strata of New York not to mention at opposite poles of the noir universe . A fine mist of the Gothic hovers over the upscale Manhattan of Laura, with its erotic obsession and faint whiff of necrophilia; Where The Sidewalk Ends is pure urban soot and grit befouling a town of basement apartments, steam rooms and parking garages. But it's every bit as fine a movie as its revered forerunner, and <more>
dyed-in-the-wool noir Laura, by contrast, one of the clutch of films from 1944 which the French first dubbed `noir,' was still very much a sophisticated murder mystery . Daylight enters only on very temporary sufferance, and director of photography Joseph LaShelle makes the most of the alleys and brownstones, the docks and the El. This is quintessential big-city - specifically Big Apple - noir, like several others from the bumper crop of 1950, like Side Street and Sleeping City and The Tattooed Stranger and Edge of Doom.As the movie opens, police detective Dana Andrews is on the carpet for his brutal ways, particularly his vendetta towards crime boss Gary Merrill whom we learn was set up in business by Andrews' ne'er-do-well father . When an out-of-towner is stabbed to death at a floating crap game operated by Merrill, the hair-trigger Andrews roughs up a witness, causing him a fatal crack to the skull exacerbated by a steel plate installed in the veteran's head . Realizing that his job's already on the line, Andrews dumps the body in the river after making it look like the suspect had taken a powder.Of course, that's far from an end to it. The corpse is discovered, his estranged wife turns out to be Tierney, and all the evidence starts to turn toward her father Tom Tully , a hack driver who happened not only to have been cruising the same mean streets the night of the murder but to have ample reason to want his abusive son-in-law dead. But the embittered loner Andrews finds in Tierney a summons to his better nature; he tries to exonerate her father while still keeping his own involvement in the whole sordid business a secret....Not so epigrammatic as Laura, the script for Where The Sidewalk Ends by Ben Hecht shows a pungency of its own in a second dressing-down, his superior tells Andrews, `Look at you - all bunged up like a barrelhouse fag' . But while Laura spread its attention over half a dozen characters, here Andrews is all but the sole focus even Tierney's role is far less central than her half-spectral Laura . And Andrews may never have excelled his performance here. It's tight-lipped and taciturn, but never more eloquent than when his face is silently registering the anguish to which his own obstinacy has brought him. He's a pent-up sufferer who can find release only through the safety-valve of violence he even lashes out against his loyal partner, Bert Freed . To be sure, he finds too swift a road to redemption though the agency of his beautiful co-star. But that was the style of the times, and a sweetened-up ending does little to undermine this New York story of violence, corruption and urban entanglements.
At first glance, it would seem natural to compare Where the Sidewalk Ends with Laura. Both have noirish qualities, both were directed by Otto Preminger, and both star Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. But that's where most of the comparisons end. Laura dealt with posh, sophisticated people with means who just happen to find themselves mixed-up in a murder. Where the Sidewalk Ends is set in a completely different strata. These are people with barely two nickels to rub together who are more accustomed to seeing the underbelly of society than going to fancy dress parties. Where the Sidewalk <more>
ends is a gritty film filled with desperate people who solve their problems with their fists or some other weapon. Small-time hoods are a dime-a-dozen and cops routinely beat confessions out of the crooks. Getting caught-up in a murder investigation seems as natural as breathing.While I haven't seen his entire body of work, based on what I have seen, Dana Andrews gives one of his best performances as the beat-down cop, Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon. He's the kind of cop who is used to roughing up the local hoods if it gets him information or a confession. One night, he goes too far and accidentally kills a man. He does his best to cover it up. But things get complicated when he falls for the dead man's wife, Morgan Taylor Tierney , whose father becomes suspect number one in the murder case. As Morgan's father means the world to her, Dixon's got to do what he can to clear the old man without implicating himself.Technically, Where the Sidewalk Ends is outstanding. Besides the terrific performance from Andrews, the movie features the always delightful Tierney. She has a quality that can make even the bleakest of moments seem brighter. The rest of the cast is just as solid with Tom Tully as the wrongly accused father being a real standout. Beyond the acting, the direction, sets, lighting, and cinematography are all top-notch. Overall, it's an amazingly well made film.If I have one complaint and admittedly it's a very, very minor quibble it's that Tierney is almost too perfect for the role and her surroundings. It's a little difficult to believe that a woman like that could find herself mixed-up with some of these unsavory characters. It's not really her fault, it's just the way Tierney comes across. She seems a little too beautiful, polished, and delicate for the part. But, her gentle, kind, trusting nature add a sense of needed realism to her portrayal.
One of the best detective films of the Fifties! (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Perhaps the most gripping and intelligent of crooked cop movies is Otto Preminger's 'Where the Sidewalks Ends,' from a really excellent script by Ben Hecht based on the novel 'Night Cry' by Frank Rosenberg...Dana Andrews is the honest, tough New York policeman, always in trouble with his superiors because he likes his own strong-arm methods as much as he detests crooks... When he hit someone, his knuckles hurt... And the man he wants to hit is a smooth villain Gary Merrill who points up the title. 'Why are you always trying to push me in the gutter?' he asks <more>
Andrews. 'I have as much right on the sidewalk as you.'Dana Andrew's obsession and neurosis are implanted in his hidden, painful discovery that he is the son of a thief... His deep hatred of criminals led him to use their own illegal methods to destroy them, and the pursuit of justice became spoiled in private vendetta...By a twist of irony unique to the film itself, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney of 'Laura' are united once more, and Andrews now seems to be playing the same detective a few years later, but no longer the romantic, beaten down by his job, by the cheap crooks... This time, he goes too far, and accidentally kills a suspect... The killing is accidental, the victim worthless, yet it is a crime that he knows can break him or send him to jail...Using his knowledge of police procedure, he covers up his part in the crime, plants false clues, and tries to implicate a gang leader, but cannot avoid investigating the case himself... The double tension of following the larger case through to its conclusion without implicating himself in the murder, is beautifully maintained and the final solution is both logical, satisfying, and in no way a compromise...The film is one of the best detective films of the 50's, with curious moral values, also one of Preminger's best... Preminger uses a powerful storytelling technique, projecting pretentious camera angles and peculiar touches of the bizarre in order to externalize his suspense in realism...
First rate film noir; make that a superb movie. (by dcavallo)
Elegance and class are not always the first words that come to mind when folks at least folks who might do such a thing sit around and talk about film noir. Yet some of the best films of the genre, "Out of the Past," "The Killers," "In A Lonely Place," "Night and the City," manage a level of sleek sophistication that elevates them beyond a moody catch phrase and its connotations of foreboding shadows, fedoras, and femme-fatales. "Where the Sidewalk Ends," a fairly difficult to find film -- the only copy in perhaps the best stocked video <more>
store in Manhattan was a rough bootleg from the AMC cable channel -- belongs in a category with these classics.From the moment the black cloud of opening credits pass, a curtain is drawing around rogue loner detective Marc Dixon's crumbling world, and as the moments pass, it inches ever closer, threatening suffocation. Sure, he's that familiar "cop with a dark past", but Dana Andrews gives Dixon a bleak stare and troubled intensity that makes you as uncomfortable as he seems. And yeah, he's been smacking around suspects for too long, and the newly promoted chief Karl Malden, in a typically robust and commanding outing is warning him "for the last time." Yet Dixon hates these thugs too much to stop now. And boy didn't they had have it coming? "Hoods, dusters, mugs, gutter nickel-rats" he spits when that tough nut of a boss demotes him and rolls out all of the complaints the bureau has been receiving about Dixon's right hook. The advice is for him to cool off for his own good. But instead he takes matters into his own hands. And what a world of trouble he finds when he relies on his instincts, and falls back on a nature that may or may not have been passed down from a generation before. Right away he's in deep with the cops, the syndicate, his own partner. Dixon's questionable involvement in a murder "investigation" threatens his job, makes him wonder whether he is simply as base as those he has sworn to bring in. Like Bogart in "Lonely Place," can he "escape what he is?"When he has nowhere else to turn, he discovers that he has virtually doomed his unexpected relationship with a seraphic beauty the marvelous Gene Tierney who seems as if she can turn his barren bachelor's existence into something worth coming home to. The pacing of this superb film is taut and gripping. The group of writers that contributed to the production polished the script to a high gloss -- the dialogue is snappy without disintegrating into dated parody fodder, passionate without becoming melodramatic or sappy. And all of this top-notch direction and acting isn't too slick or buffed to loosen the film's emotional hold. Gene Tierney's angelic, soft-focus beauty is used to great effect. She shows herself to be an actress of considerable range, and her gentle, kind nature is as boundless here as is her psychosis in "Leave Her to Heaven." The scenes between Tierney and Andrews's Dixon grow more intense and touching the closer he seems to self-destruction. Near the end of his rope, cut, bruised, and exhausted Dixon summarizes his lot: "Innocent people can get into terrible jams, too,.." he says. "One false move and you're in over your head." Perhaps what makes this film so totally compelling is the sense that things could go wildly wrong for almost anyone -- especially for someone who is trying so hard to do right -- with one slight shift in the wind, one wrong decision or punch, or, most frighteningly, due to factors you have no control over. Noir has always reflected the darkest fears, brought them to the surface. "Where the Sidewalk Ends" does so in a realistic fashion. One nit-pick of an aside: This otherwise sterling film has a glaringly poor dub of a blonde model that wouldn't seem out of place on Mystery Science Theater. How very odd. But Noir fans -- heck, ANY movie fans -- who haven't seen this one are in for a terrific treat.
Pretty good film from Preminger; labyrinthine at times, as it explores sets and locales from various angles and perspectives as if it were a nature film on the denizens of the modern city and how they live. In this sense it is visually and spatially satisfying, as its hero, a good cop with a bad temper, gets into very hot water when he accidentally kills a guy with a plate in his head.Dana Andrews plays the lead as if it were Hamlet, and has never been better. The story may be pure melodrama but Andrews gives it weight, and almost raises it to the level of tragedy. As his girl, Gene Tierney <more>
is attractive but unremarkable. Gary Merrill makes for a very interesting villain, with his natural warmth providing a nice contrast to Andrews' coolness; his smiling, amiable-seeming bad guy seems to be continually challenging his nemesis by the mere fact of his being emotionally open, as opposed to the tightly wound and moralistic cop who is pursuing him. There are no major surprises in this film, which seems transitional for all concerned. For director Preminger it is a reunion of sorts with his Laura stars, Andrews and Tierney, who were passing their career peaks at around the time the movie was made. The supporting cast,--Merrill, Karl Malden, Neville Brand--are, understandably, more optimistic, as they were all on their way up. Preminger, as serene an observer as ever, lets the events unfold without expressing a strong point of view, as the morally ambiguous ending is somewhat disappointing, for the cat and mouse game between the two antagonists seems larger and more archetypal than any mere movie could contain, much less resolve.