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4.1 out of 5 stars16
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2005
From the fantastic opening sequence in which the credits are scrawled graffiti-style on the sidewalk and the camera closes in on filthy rainwater rushing down the gutter, this movie employs a series of interesting and offbeat visual, structural and sonic devices to explore its themes of fate and corruption and to keep the viewer constantly surprised and challenged. Preminger's refusal to emotionally signpost the narrative with an intrusive musical score allows the crackling of police radios, the rattling of subway trains and the ambient traffic noise to form a kind of realistic soundtrack to the film. Absence of musical pointers also intensifes the moral ambiguity of the protagonist's actions. Long scenes (such as the beautifully taut sequence filmed beneath the Brooklyn Bridge in which Dana Andrews disposes of the body of Gene Tierney's estranged husband) take place in virtual silence, inviting us to construct our own moral perspective and to concentrate on the gorgeous deep-focus black and white photography. Structurally, too, Preminger keeps us on our toes. The scene which in any other film would be the climax of the action, involving an inevitable shoot-out and a quick resolution of the story's moral conflicts, is here omitted completely: we simply hear about it afterward. For some viewers this might be disconcerting, but its effect is to sustain the ambiguity to the end and to leave the destiny of the central character somewhat unresolved. It's as fitting and complex an ending as the studio system would allow to Ben Hecht's clever and twisty screenplay which piles cruel irony on top of cruel irony for Detective Dixon, "half cop, half killer" as the bad guy calls him, driven by a hatred for hoodlums which is exceeded only by hatred of himself. As the original vigilante cop, the grim-faced Dana Andrews brilliantly conveys this unstable brew of vicious anger and self-loathing. By contrast, Gene Tierney's role as the good-girl saviour of our shadowy hero is slightly trite. It's the most conventional thing about this challenging and intriguing movie. The restored print used on the BFI's DVD edition is immaculate.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2011
American city film noir directed by Otto Preminger with the screenplay written by Ben Hecht. The adaptation is from the novel Night Cry written by William L. Stuart and Joseph LaShelle provides the cinematography for the New York City shoot. It stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Bert Freed, Tom Tully & Karl Malden, with support coming from Ruth Donnelly, Craig Stevens & Neville Brand.

Tough New York cop Mark Dixon (Andrews) is constantly in trouble with his superiors for his heavy-handed treatment of suspects. When disaster strikes during an altercation with Ken Paine (Stevens), Dixon chooses an unethical route and attempts to frame a gangster nemesis called Tommy Scalise (Merill). However, things don't go according to plan and not only does Dixon find himself falling in love with Paine's wife, Morgan Taylor-Paine (Tierney), but also that he is now mired in a quagmire investigation which sees Morgan's father, Jiggs (Tully) accused of the crime he himself is responsible for.

Where The Sidewalk Ends was the final film noir piece that Preminger made for 20th Century Fox in the 1940s. Then a director for hire, the film sees Preminger re-teamed with Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Joseph LaShelle, Ben Hecht and art director Lyle Wheeler, all of whom produced the excellent Laura in 1944. Whilst linking the two film's together is understandable given the makers and the genre involved, the two are very different movies. Which to my mind makes a mockery of some critics looking unfavourably on "Sidewalk" because of the regard Laura is held. "Sidewalk" is more grittier, more violent and certainly darker (this is one troubled chip on the shoulder copper), in short this is big city noir and some way away from the socialite leanings of the more glossy Laura.

There's a lot of quality involved here. Preminger astutely paces the story and manages to make Dixon sympathetic, thus fully doing justice to Hecht's tough and tight script that unravels in a world of cop shops, cafés, street side apartments and underworld hang-outs. All of which is given the perfect low-key (almost seedy) photographic treatment by the always visually appealing LaShelle. The cast too are doing great work. Tierney is a beguiling beauty throughout, something that works off of Andrews' more chiselled featured and emotionally conflicted portrayal rather well. It's arguably one of Andrews' best & most convincing performances, Dixon carries around with him much pain and bitterness due to his father having been a criminal. In a perverse bit of writing, Dixon essentially finds himself investigating himself, throw in a burgeoning romance with sharp kickers attached, and, shades of patricide, then it's a character in need of depth. Andrews steps up to the plate and layers it to perfection to give noir one of its finest policeman protagonists. The rest are effective, particularly Malden, Merrill and Brand, the latter of which is the tough guy actor who isn't William Bendix!

If we have to pick flies? Then the ending carriers some Hollywoodisation baggage, and there's some implausibilities within the story. But really neither of those things stop the film from being the riveting genre offering that it is. So get out on that sidewalk with Dixon and see just what awaits us and him after Preminger has taken us for a murky stroll. 8/10
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on 22 February 2011
Mark Dixon has no redeeming features.Mark Dixon is a thug.Mark Dixon is a killer.Mark Dixon is a cop!This excellent film is one that I've fancied watching for a while and I was not disappointed.Dana Andrews in terrific as the main character and while I've read that some think his style 'wooden' and a bit featureless,for me he is perfect as the cop who hates criminals.A previous reviewer mentions 'Dirty Harry' and I feel that this comparision is not to far from the truth.As I was watching this film it struck me that Mark Dixon is not a likeable character.He is a dour,bitter man who would not think twice about beating the truth out of a suspect and, as Harry Callaghan does not go after his villians wise cracking away left,right and centre,this is the way Dana Andrews plays the lead in this film.Without giving to much away,you know,as this picture was made in 1950,that Dixon will have to face justice of some sort at the climax of the film,but the finale did take me by surprise.All in all,a terrific film and proof that Dana Andrews was a better actor than some would have others believe.Recommended.
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on 12 November 2013
Love this old stuff that tells a story minus screams and car smashing chases. A study in evocative set direction.
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on 2 August 2015
After he accidentally kills a man whilst attempting to gain information on a murder, a heavy handed cop with a brutal reputation tries to get the villain that he is convinced is guilty of the original crime, before time runs out and he is caught for his very own murder.
To make things even more complicated the estranged wife of the man he just killed falls for him, an innocent man looks set to take the tumble for the murder he committed, and to cap it all off, his new boss is out to prove a point regarding his promotion.
Will he be able to nail the mobsters before his own guilt comes to light..?

Andrews throws in a very surly performance as the tight mouthed, tough detective Dixon, with some very sound support coming by way of the excellent cast.
The story is different, it's not quite a straight noir, the (anti)hero beginning the film by opening a very dark chapter on his policing career, that is until you realise his disturbed motivations in trying to atone for the sins of his father, and even then you're not sure whether you want to like or trust the guy enough to see him succeed..
It's almost got a Spillane 'Mike Hammer' vibe to it, with his misanthropic nature.
Preminger doing a fine job at keeping the pace up, with some neat moments of unease and character claustrophobia.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would have no hesitations in recommending it.

The Bfi, UK dvd has a nice print and comes with a few small extras. Namely a short director and screenwriter biography and a trailer.

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on 22 January 2013
preminger's camera never moves around in the dark,the suddenly explodes on a close up of a face.that,s what the noir story drives forward up to the unexpected end.a great classic film by a man who knows his trade.
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on 6 December 2015
Been looking for this film for a while now, Dana Andrews play a great role love all these black and white films
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on 5 April 2016
Unable to give a review because there is no sound from DVD when played. How can I get a replacement out of date but only tried it this week due to purchasing a number of DVD's. Unable to contact seller or Amazon. Really disappointed
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on 15 July 2015
Above average 50s crime drama.Recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 December 2014
Otto Preminger’s 1950 tale of a fatalistic New York detective ensnared in a web of self-destructive guilt may not be exactly the most original basis for a film, but Where The Sidewalk Ends has all the ingredients of classic film noir and, what’s more, delivers them in spades. Dana Andrews is excellent as maverick cop and loner, Mark Dixon – a man with a troubled past and a tendency to administer violence to evasive hoods – softly-spoken, laid-back naturalism being the order of the day for Andrews’ acting style, placing him more on a par with the likes of a Mitchum (or maybe a Gabin, for which this film role could easily have been written) rather than a (more 'caricatured’) Bogey or even a Douglas. Add in the ingredients of Ben Hecht’s taut, witty and dark screenplay, an intricate, but fast-moving, plot and then Joseph LaShelle’s evocative (New York skylines and close-ups on Andrews’ pensive visage) cinematography and Cyril Mockridge’s nicely judged score and you have 90 minutes of compelling noir.

The film is never less than an impressive visual work, starting with its clever opening as legs stride purposefully down the sidewalk (over the film’s titles) before stepping off (from the relative safety) into the streaming sluice of the gutter (and the seedy, amoral world of film noir). By dint of the film’s rapid-fire plot we’re soon into the guts of Dixon’s dilemma, caught between his increasing affection for Gene Tierney’s 'catwalk model’ Morgan Taylor and his compromised guilt (and fear of exposure) after a tragic accident condemns him to the status of 'victim of circumstance’ (or maybe that should be 'victim of fate’, this being noir). Preminger and Hecht’s engaging plot never lets up, but (for me) their film succeeds, in particular, as a result of a whole series of great characterisations and performances. Tierney is impressive as the kind-hearted, philosophical Taylor, as are each of Gary Merrill’s smooth-talking thug (and Dixon’s nemesis) Scalise and Bert Freed’s partner to Dixon and 'voice of reason’, the hen-pecked, Paul Klein, But there are also great observational (part-comedic) 'cameos’ here from Tom Tully’s effusive, well-meaning (and ‘innocent accused’) father to Taylor, Jiggs, as well as Don Appell’s slippery informer, Willie Bender, and Ruth Donnelly’s cynical, bantering restaurant owner, Martha.

All-in-all, I have trouble finding a flaw with Preminger’s film, as the tension and sense of entrapment for Andrews’ character steadily builds to what is a powerfully uncompromising ending in which Dixon finds some degree of redemption from his troubled self and past. A film to talk about in the same breath as the very best noirs.
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