Copyright 1960 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. New York opening at neighborhood theaters as a support to "Where the Hot Wind Blows": 11 November 1960. U.S. release: October 1960. Banned in the U.K. Australian release: 28 March 1962. Sydney opening as a support at the Liberty. Cut to 65 minutes in Australia. Original running time: 81 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: While making a phone call to his office, Los Angeles businessman Fred Morrow is witness to a brutal street killing in which a "drug-store romeo" is knifed to death for dancing with the girl of a hoodlum called Cowboy. After calling the police, Morrow is astounded to discover that none of the other witnesses to the murder are willing to testify. Though warned by police detective Rafael Torno that there may be dire consequences, Morrow agrees to be a key witness. Almost immediately, Morrow, his wife Ann and their two children are menaced by threatening phone calls, near auto accidents and ominous letters. Despite this, and prompted by a sense of civic duty, Morrow is adamant in his determination to see that Cowboy is brought to trial. But when the hoodlum is arrested, his gang swings into action.
NOTES: Film debut of singer, Johnny Nash.
COMMENT: Low-budget crime thriller, long on crime but short on thrills. It is quite obvious that young, idealistic Mr. Hunter is going to identify the killer in the court-room, so the film manages to build up very little suspense. Also, it is equally obvious that no-one is going to malign the Los Angeles Police Department in this film, so we never have any doubt that the police are going to provide Mr. Hunter and his family with solid protection.
Mr. Hunter, beautifully dressed and immaculately groomed, driving the latest model sedan and living in a lavishly appointed home in a tree-lined street, is hardly likely to elicit audience sympathy. Still, good to view Dennis Hopper, even if he is completely unrecognizable as the clean-shaven, short-haired killer, in the days before he became famous as director and star of Easy Rider.
Pat Crowley is colorless as Hunter's wife, while Susan Harrison goes to the other extreme with her exaggerated vamping as the killer's girl-friend. Miss Harrison is very unflatteringly photographed too. Phil Karlson's direction is uninteresting and routine, despite a bit of location shooting. The film is at best a distinctively minor exercise, shot on a very tight "B"-picture budget. However, it's always great to see Frank Silvera — this time he's a somewhat unconventional detective, a sort of philosophical realist, hardened by years of experience.
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