Where the Sidewalk Ends Otto Preminger

This Fox Film Noir entry offers a surprisingly complex protagonist doing unsympathetic things that would these days get you excommunicated from screen time. Dana Andrews plays a brutal cop who's been dressed down for his fists-a-flying tactics; he seems to be given a second chance at life when he falls in love with the wife (Gene Tierney) of a particularly grimy suspect. But after being given one more chance by his superiors, he blows it by losing his temper and accidentally killing that suspect. This naturally leads to the wrong man being pegged with the murder and that man happens to be the father of Andrews' girlfriend. Incredibly, the film commits to a hero who's done something inexcusable and refuses to come clean; though he's tormented about his bungling (and tries to find a backdoor to exonerate his patsy), he's still angry enough to be violent and weak enough to run from his guilt. But somehow the movie manages to make you feel for the beleaguered schmuck, showing you a frightened and confused man who doesn't understand his emotions and can't at all line up with the law's straight arrow image. He winds up becoming pitiful, and as he finally faces up to his disastrous actions you realise that this 1950 classic is infinitely more complex than any American movie made half a century later. Superb screenplay by the great Ben Hecht (and adapted by several hands) and of course, Otto Preminger delivers a great, fluid directing job. Extras include a commentary by noir scholar Eddie Muller that's smart, informative and funny in equal measure, and a photo gallery. (Fox)