Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Film Noir That Hits Like A Sucker Punch

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Dana Andrews Gary Merrill Gene Tierney film noir poster

Detective Sgt. Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) despises criminals. Loves nothing better than burying his knuckles into some hoodlums ribcage. Sometimes you hear the crack. That wince of pain is also satisfying. Better still, landing a clean, perfectly placed right hook, pow, straight to the jaw. He punches the air. If you’re lucky you’ll catch that sweet moment when the lights go out within their eyes. He smiles with the thought.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Dana Andrews shadows tough cop beat down

His father had been a small time crook. Stupid. Armed robbery of a liquor store. Locked up. He’d seen first hand what it does to families. The destructive nature of the criminal. Yep he detested them.  He became a cop. I ain’t my father? He’ll show them. Each and everyone. He’d become a bit notorious down at the 16th precinct and a celebrity with the tabloids. The newspapers happy to publish his criminal takedowns. His precinct not so keen with his methods of brute force. “Your job is to detect criminals Dixon, not to punish them!

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Karl Malden Gary Merrill Dana Andrews cops and gangster

He got results. It made him feel better. He was keeping the streets clean. Safe. Unfortunately his vicious nature was just about to catch up with him and bring him to Where The Sidewalk Ends.

Mark Dixon had his eyes on the nasal vaping gangster boss, Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill). They constantly locked horns. Scalise was cool with a loyal gang around him. Dixon couldn’t get to him. Scalise knew his moves, kept his business tight. Dixon was obsessed. If he waited long enough, Scalise would mess up. He’d make a mistake. Dixon was ready was to jump. “I’d bring that lowlife down, first with my fists and then with the cuffs.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Harry von Zell Neville Brand Gary Merrill gambling dice game

His moment was coming. Something dodgy was going down at an illegal dice game. Big money was on the table. Scalisi was patient. Nineteen thousands dollars was riding in the lucky hands of a Texas tycoon called Morrison (Harry von Zell). Scalisi and his boys had the game rigged. Come on! Just one more throw of the dice. Morrison had company for the night with the beautiful Morgan Taylor (Gene Tierney). Little did Morrison know his next roll would lighten the roll of cash in his hand. Morgan was tired. “Take me home, please”

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Gene Tierney Bert Freed Dana Andrews Otto Preminger

From that moment on Mark Dixon eyes were focused. He would become Scalisi’s shadow. Unfortunately for Dixon he’s soon to be hiding in the shadows himself. His world as the tough, good guy, raging out justice and pain to the thugs of Manhattan might be coming to end. Sucker punches, beatings and violence followed like the Grim Reaper. What was going on? How was he going to escape being the one thing he despised?

Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon –Innocent people can get into terrible jams too. One false move and you’re over your head.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Gary Merrill gangster gun film noir drama

A Few Things To Add

  • Where The Sidewalk Ends is directed by Otto Preminger who has an incredible body of work to his name. With a good bunch of film noirs like the classic Laura and others like Fallen Angel and Whirlpool. He also hit the musicals with Porgy and Bess and Carmen Jones. Plus a selection of brilliant sounding films all with Saul Bass posters I need to see, pronto. In Harm’s Way, Advise & ConsentThe Man with the Golden Arm and of course Anatomy of a Murder. I have some truly fantastic viewing coming my way very soon. Oo and I just noticed Angel Face to add to the noirs! Spoilt for choice.
  • Based on a book by William L Stuart called Night Cry. Though I could not say how much the film resembles the novel as the film is credited to three for the story and then Ben Hecht on screenplay duties.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Neville Brand Gary Merrill Dana Andrews gangsters mob boss cop

  • Also stars Mark’s partner Det. Paul Klein (Bert Freed). Morgan’s taxi driver Dad Jiggs Taylor (Tom Tully). New 16th precinct boss Lt. Thomas (Karl Malden). Morgan’s ex partner Ken Paine (Craig Stevens) and last of all Tommy Scalise loyal muscle, the tough hood Steve (Neville Brand).
  • The opening scene is excellent showing footsteps walking along the pavement of the sidewalk as the the titles are boldly writing in white chalk to the sound of a whistling man.
  • What is Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill) snorting throughout the film? Lee Marvin’s character is addicted to it also in the superb “colour” noir, 1955s Violent Saturday.
  • One of the best bits that lightens the darkness is the banter with the landlady of Martha’s Cafe (Ruth Donnelly) where Mark takes the lovely Morgan on a “date”.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Martha's Cafe (Ruth Donnelly) Gary Merrill Dana Andrews

Mark – “It’s the worst food in town, but don’t worry. They usually serve a stomach pump with the dessert.Martha – “Who invited you to come to my restaurant, Mr. Detective? Not me!Mark – “Bring us two of your dangerous dinners, Martha.Martha – “You know how much I’ve been offered to poison this man?” Mark – “Ten dollars?Martha – “That’s right. I’m holding out for fifteen. Two dinners. Do you want wine?” Mark – “Bring a small bottleMartha – “Huh! Same old cheapskate!

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Dana Andrews film noir car lift gangsters lair

Now Where The Sidewalk Ends gripped me right out the gate. The lush greyscale of the photography made the black and white shadows so rich and raw. The dialogue and quick witted banter flew round aplenty keeping this film noir busling along. The pace is tight and filled with surprising ultraviolence for a film from 1950. The punches surprise. Sucker punches that really hit home. I had to rewind one just to slow it down to see how on Earth they filmed it. It was savage and straight at the screen. The script makes you feel for the characters. You’re of the edge of your seat. Desperate to see how it will all play out. Every now and then you hit these films that really resonate home. Yep this film was perfect for me. I wanna watch it again.  What about you? Have you seen this one? What’s your favourite Otto Preminger? I got a whole heap of wonderful catching up to do.

Keep watching the the screens. Thanks for popping on by.

Mikey Wolf.

 

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Dollman (1991) Sci Fi Dirty Harry In Reverse Gulliver’s Travels To The Bronx!

Dollman (1991) Tim Thomerson b movie cult dirty harry in space big gun poster VHS

Jeepers! Dollman just manages to edge it’s way in through the, it’s so bad it’s actually pretty good door. If our hero was just one inch smaller? No way he’d be allowed to ride the cult rollercoaster of thrills. What with it’s crazy premise. Imagine Dirty Harry strutting through a super low budget science fiction film where his iconic .44 Magnum is now a laser cannon. Then for the narrative to flip into Gulliver’s Travels in reverse. Yep this film is striking high and what with its star being a cult film geeks joy. Dollman is thirteen inches of pure gun toting cult attitude. Continue reading

The First of the Few (1942) The Spitfire Story With Leslie Howard And Lady Houston

Spitfire (1942) Lesie Howard David Niven poster artwork ww2

The First of the Few, to be later known as Spitfire, is a biopic of Reginald Joseph Mitchell. The aeronautical engineer and designer of that iconic flying machine, the Supermarine Spitfire. Directed and produced by Leslie Howard who plonks himself in the lead role of RJ Mitchell. Unfortunately to no fault of his own, The First of the Few would become poor Leslie’s final film. But before we go into that, what’s this film all about? Continue reading

Split Second (1992) In Tribute To The Great Rutger Hauer Here’s Some Sci-Fi Horror Carnage

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With yesterday’s shocking, sad news of the passing of the legend Rutger Hauer I thought I would have a tribute to the great man by watching one of his films. One I’d never managed to see before. Which one would I pick? Well you’ve read the title of the page, silly me. Somehow, really unsure how, 1992s Split Second had completely passed me by.

Tagline – He’s seen the future…Now he has to kill it. He’ll need bigger guns.

Roy Batty Blade runner dove Rutger Hauer Continue reading

Near Dark (1987) Aliens Crew Go Bloodsucking Berserk At The OK Corral

Near Dark (1987) dvd cover poster bill paxton burning mashed up

Ok ok okay! Hold the press. New headline! It’s a shocker. Sit down, please. You’ll never believe it. I don’t believe it. Not sure how it happened. I place the pointy hat of cult shame upon my head and walk out the door to ponder on life. This here Wolfman had never seen Near Dark before! I had always thought I had… I blooming hadn’t! Surely? If anyone asked I’d reply I had. There I was sat happily “rewatching” this cult classic when it dawns on me that “hang on a minute I don’t recall any of this!“. Looking for the positives. How amazing that I got to sit and watch this for the time. My shame turned to joy and the smile returned to my face. Continue reading

Warning Sign (1985) A Predecessor To Resident Evil Or 28 Days Later? Rage Virus

Warning Sign (1985) poster virus mutant zombie infected rage horror film

By the end of his horrific day, County Sheriff Cal Morse (Sam Waterston) sat thinking to himself, maybe, just maybe, he’d rather be back in the murder and mayhem of The Killing Fields of Cambodia! Wiping sweat and blood from his brow he sank back into his chair. One thing for sure, he’d definitely prefer to be sat in his squad car eating Popeyes chicken.

Warning Sign (1985) Sheriff Cal Morse (Sam Waterston) popeyes famous chicken cop car jeep Continue reading

Which Way Is Up? (1977) How Do Three Richard Pryor’s Fit In With Today’s Changing Climate

Which Way Is Up (1977) Richard Pryor poster three pryor's for the price of one

There’s not many Richard Pryor films I hadn’t rented on VHS or managed to record from a TV broadcast. Such a brilliant comic and mighty fine actor. My whole pre-teens to my twenties the double act of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder never left my screens. I can drop into Stir Crazy at anytime and still be in fits of laughter. I’d even seen all the others like Brewster’s Millions with John Candy and that bizarre one called The Toy! There was great fun to be had with Critical Condition and Moving plus he could also turn in a superb dramatic performance alongside the best of them like with Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto in Blue Collar. One that had gone right under my radar was Which Way Is Up? Reading that he plays three different characters I just couldn’t wait to watch it. Continue reading