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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original Dirty Harry: complex and challenging
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...
Published on 7 April 2005 by A fellow creature

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9 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn�t keep me interested
One of the BFI's film noir releases this film didn't kept me too interested. There are a few reasons for that. One is that Dana Andrews is a bit too wooden for the lead (far more than the part requires). Another is that the plot never goes as smoothly as it should - which strange since the screenwriter is one of Hollywood's all time best - but I wonder how much miscasting...
Published on 28 Feb 2005 by Miguel M. Santos


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original Dirty Harry: complex and challenging, 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lets have no more talk of Laura, eh?, 27 Feb 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'd Be Glad He's On Your Side........, 22 Feb 2011
By 
foomum (Swansea,Wales,U.K.) - See all my reviews
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superior Noir, 5 Dec 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black and White bliss, 12 Nov 2013
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Love this old stuff that tells a story minus screams and car smashing chases. A study in evocative set direction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars preminger knows his trade!, 22 Jan 2013
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preminger's camera never disappoints.it 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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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why are you always trying to push me in the gutter?' he asks Andrews. 'I have as much right on the sidewalk as you.', 25 Sep 2009
By 
Peter Wade (Colchester England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Why are you always trying to push me in the gutter?' he asks Andrews. 'I have as much right on the sidewalk as you.'

I have recently become a fan of film noir so I look for them wherever I can. This is a very good example with Dana Andrews. I thought his best role was in Best Years of of Lives when he came back from the war a disillusioned out of work pilot in the air force having to return to his job as a soda jerk.

In this he is a tough cop who hates criminals and lets them know by using his fists. He gets warned by his bosses and demoted as a result.The film noir was reputedly created by Europeans who ran away from Hitler and they depicted the US like the Europe they had left therefore it was full of bent coppers and mobsters on the take.

He goes after the baddies and comes across a drunk who goes for him and after hitting his head dies. Dan Andrews tries to hide the death by taking the body in taxi and dumping it. He then has to investigate the death and falls in love with the widow.

The father in law becomes a suspect and this is a person who really admires the tough cop as he met him a few years before. This puts Dana Andrews in a dilemma because he doesn't want a innocent man blamed for the murder.He tries to pin it in on the local mobster

He allows himself to get beaten up by the baddies then sorts them out and gets a recommendation. He then has to tell his bosses that it was he who killed the drunk and his new girlfriend the widow stills loves him and says she will wait.

It is the ultimate in self sacrifice.

A great film and it all turns out well in the end. He was haunted by the fact that his day was a thief and he didn't want to be branded as being the same as his dad so it was all about redemption and being saved by a good woman.
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9 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn�t keep me interested, 28 Feb 2005
By 
Miguel M. Santos "miguelmsantos" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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One of the BFI's film noir releases this film didn't kept me too interested. There are a few reasons for that. One is that Dana Andrews is a bit too wooden for the lead (far more than the part requires). Another is that the plot never goes as smoothly as it should - which strange since the screenwriter is one of Hollywood's all time best - but I wonder how much miscasting has to do with it. None of the actors are really suitable for their parts, with the possible exception of Gary Merrill as the villain. There are some interesting moments, though, and the theme of corruption is still fairly well explored. I was drawn to the film mostly because Gene Tierney was in it, but her part so too small and two-dimensional that made me wonder why she accepted it. I wasn't expecting "Laura II" but the film really left me cold.
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Where the Sidewalk Ends [DVD] [1950] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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