Nicholas Ray was brought on to finish this atmospheric crime yarn after producer Howard Hughes forced Josef von Sternberg off the project. (Allegedly, Robert Mitchum helped write a few scenes with Ray.) But its initial director’s signature textures and tones still shine through: dresses and gloves sheathed in glitter; an Escher-like casino; a pier-set finale that recalls Sternberg’s The Docks of New York. It was, by all accounts, an unpleasant, tumultuous production. The final movie, though, is buoyant—a shimmering cinematic vacation starring Mitchum as an American runaway tasked with capturing a crime lord while also wooing a singer played by Jane Russell.
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