Time for another ride down Noir lane. This is one of those films where it is hard to root for the main characters from the start because the romance seems ill advised and the main guy never seems to learn his lesson. So things continue to escalate more and more but with nobody there to stop this destructive path. It makes for a pretty fun watch but you are hoping that the main character would have either gotten better as the movie went on or the heroine would have ditched him. That would have been the best outcome here.
The movie starts off with Bill getting really drunk at a bar and he doesn’t want to leave when it’s closing time so he murders the owner. He hides from the cops by breaking into the apartment of a lady named Jane and keeping her prisoner there. It’s a pretty scary situation for her but she manages to stay strong and the next day heads out to live her life but Bill returns. He confesses his instant love for her and wants her to be with him now. She thinks this is crazy but at the same time starts to like him back. She wants to believe him that what happened was a one time event so they go out but his violent outbursts won’t stop. Can they ever live a normal life together?
Talk about sabotaging yourself. Bill has been through a lot but right here he could have finally had the normal life that he had been waiting for. All he had to do was stop attacking people and getting into trouble. The worst part is that the next offense isn’t because someone was instigating him or anything like that. He just wanted to cheat one guy out of money so he did the classic trick of losing once on purpose and was aiming to win the next round. Unfortunately that just wasn’t going to happen because this guy was wise to those tricks so Bill literally attacks him to rob the guy. Note that he is doing all of this in front of Jane so it’s not like he can talk his way out of this one. She saw the whole thing with a front row seat.
Then he even goes as far as to attack a cop and finally gets thrown in prison for a while. After all of that you could even say that he got off easy to be honest because he is still let out before too long. The most annoying thing is that Jane is still there and waiting. It sort of feels like she has Stockholm syndrome at this point. Keep in mind that their first meeting was basically Bill kidnapping her within her own home and that should have been a traumatic moment, not a cause for starting a romance or anything like that. It just feels like she keeps going back to him over and over again when he doesn’t seem like he will ever be changing.
His fighting skills do come in handy when he has to beat up a bunch of ruffians who are trying to stir up trouble. That was a good moment for him without a doubt even if ultimately the blackmail was going to get back to him at some point and he shouldn’t have agreed to the deal in the first place. That’s the trouble with doing something wrong, once the blackmail comes into play it has you keep on doubling down over and over again which only makes things worse. The best thing to do is to not do anything worthy of blackmail in the first lace and then you’d be just fine.
So I didn’t end up liking Bill at all but I also can’t say that I liked Jane very much either. She just put up with too much and was too soft on Bill the whole time. If she had just cut him off earlier that would have made way more sense. There just isn’t a logical reason for her to fall for him at this stage because he really hadn’t given her any reason to do so. He was just causing her a ton of problems instead and even to the end that is basically the case like when the mobster Harry went after her instead of him to cause some trouble.
In case it’s not obvious, it’s good that she took that guy down and I’d say should have even finished the job. It’s a grim reality but if you stab someone and they don’t die then allowing them to live is all kinds of risky. They might have their mobster friends come at you next, you might get sued on some kind of insane loophole, etc. He came at her with the intent to hurt her beyond repair and basically go beyond murder so all bets are off at that point. She has to just finish the job quickly and in that way it’s not like he’s bleeding to death either so it’s a quick loss. It’s also yet another traumatic memory that she has to live with now.
As for Harry, I thought he was an interesting villain for a while there. He talks tough and has a very memorable accent that really goes a long way. He even plays the long game in terms of using the blackmail to his advantage. My main issue here was ultimately that they throw this all out the window to just make him your average creep in the end. Why did they have to reduce him to this? Whenever you have a villain just decide to assault the heroine like this it makes them more two dimensional than paper and also loses any chance they had of being an even slightly decent character. There’s no coming back from that and it also made him a poor villain so that was really unfortunate.
The film balances being annoying at times with being a quality film. Ultimately I would easily say that the movie’s strengths outweigh the annoyance factor and I don’t think it’s close. I really did have a good time with this film and it’s got a fairly original plot. I don’t think I’ve seen too many films about the heroine trying to redeem the main guy and it works out well even if you wish she would just give up. I think it would have been even better if they could have had Bill show some more progress throughout the film on a gradual level instead of constantly escalating. Like the whole scene of him trying to rob the card player should not have happened because that was the most egregious moment in the film. Take that out and he would at least appear to be wayyyyy more civilized and acting like a reasonable person.
Overall, I would recommend checking this film out. It may not stand out among some of the other Noir films over the years and I could see myself forgetting parts of it in time but ultimately it still is a pretty good film. You don’t always have to be great in order to have a good experience and I would say that is the case with this film. It’s just consistently good the whole time with a solid story and so I can safely recommend this to anyone. The fight scenes were also fun and I did think it was impressive how Bill took on around 4 opponents at once. I guarantee that not just anyone could pull that off.