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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough Cop Caught Between the Rock and the Hard Place in Excellent Film Noir...
The set up and the dark photography in Otto Preminger's film noir from 1950 provide all the necessities to create a dark and morally corrupt environment. Even the title Where the Sidewalk Ends alludes to an ominous atmosphere of a looming end in a mundane environment. The opening reveals that Detective Sergeant Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) who has a record of beating up...
Published on December 22, 2005 by Kim Anehall

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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the best detective films of the Fifties!
Perhaps the most gripping and intelligent of crooked cop movies is Otto Preminger's 'Where the Sidewalks Ends,' from a really excellent script by Ben Hecht based on the novel 'Night Cry' by Frank Rosenberg...

Dana Andrews is the honest, tough New York policeman, always in trouble with his superiors because he likes his own strong-arm methods as much as he...
Published on January 16, 2007 by Roberto Frangie


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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough Cop Caught Between the Rock and the Hard Place in Excellent Film Noir..., December 22, 2005
This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
The set up and the dark photography in Otto Preminger's film noir from 1950 provide all the necessities to create a dark and morally corrupt environment. Even the title Where the Sidewalk Ends alludes to an ominous atmosphere of a looming end in a mundane environment. The opening reveals that Detective Sergeant Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) who has a record of beating up suspects, and it costs him his rank within the police force. On top of this, a peer, Thomas (Karl Malden), from his police school days is taking over as Police Chief for the 16th Precinct in which he works. It is a hard blow to his ego, as there is nothing more important to Dixon than to putting criminals behind bars.

It is within the imperfect persona performed by Dana Andrews that the story gets its captivating quality. Dixon lives a lonely life while his workaholic attitude finds nourishment in his deep fiery hatred towards criminals, which is also the reason why he finds himself in trouble with his superiors. The solitude of Dixon overshadows the whole story and it accentuates the tough elements of film noir within the film. Little by little, the story reveals why Dixon has such a strong hatred for delinquent characters, as it also provides additional support of the elements of film noir within the film.

Dixon's job brings him on long and tough shifts amidst the murky nights of New York City where he comes across a murder in a small and ritzy underground gambling club. The club happens to belong to a shady character named Tom Scalise (Gary Merrill) with whom Dixon has crossed paths with in the past. They are in good terms with one another, on the contrary Dixon treats him like the lowest scum in the world, which is an indicator that he thinks Scalise is a crook. The whole situation seems fishy to Dixon, but evidence and witnesses' point out a specific wife-abusing Kenneth Paine (Craig Stevens) as the perpetrator.

Despite Dixon's personal objections to the suspect's identity, he must investigate the lead. When Dixon knocks on Paine's door he finds him drunk talking on the phone while also unaware of why the police would like to see him. In the drunken stupor, Paine tries to strike him with a bottle, but Dixon reacts quickly in his usual manner by striking back. However, it is the last time for Dixon to strike a suspect, as Paine ceases to breathe after a fall. The fear crawling over his face after becoming aware of Paine's death is very noticeable, but subtle expressions suggest that he is considering his options. Dixon is aware of people's knowledge of his aggressive nature towards criminals while the warning from his supervisor echoes in his head.

Cornered without witnesses observing the act of self-defense Dixon begin to choose the path he so much despises. The audience is aware of the events taking place, but the audience is also aware of how the situation will be interpreted, a cop going overboard and killed a suspect in the process. It is within this moral predicament of justice where the cinematic value emerges, as Dixon also begins to develop strong feelings for Paine's wife Morgan Taylor (Gene Tierney). The film becomes increasingly more complex, as with it its complexity a fascinating film noir emerges that struggles with right and wrong while scrutinize a man's conscious and moral fabric.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the best detective films of the Fifties!, January 16, 2007
This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
Perhaps the most gripping and intelligent of crooked cop movies is Otto Preminger's 'Where the Sidewalks Ends,' from a really excellent script by Ben Hecht based on the novel 'Night Cry' by Frank Rosenberg...

Dana Andrews is the honest, tough New York policeman, always in trouble with his superiors because he likes his own strong-arm methods as much as he detests crooks... When he hit someone, his knuckles hurt... And the man he wants to hit is a smooth villain (Gary Merrill) who points up the title. 'Why are you always trying to push me in the gutter?' he asks Andrews. 'I have as much right on the sidewalk as you.'

Dana Andrew's obsession and neurosis are implanted in his hidden, painful discovery that he is the son of a thief... His deep hatred of criminals led him to use their own illegal methods to destroy them, and the pursuit of justice became spoiled in private vendetta...

By a twist of irony unique to the film itself, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney of 'Laura' are united once more, and Andrews now seems to be playing the same detective a few years later, but no longer the romantic, beaten down by his job, by the cheap crooks... This time, he goes too far, and accidentally kills a suspect... The killing is accidental, the victim worthless, yet it is a crime that he knows can break him or send him to jail...

Using his knowledge of police procedure, he covers up his part in the crime, plants false clues, and tries to implicate a gang leader, but cannot avoid investigating the case himself... The double tension of following the larger case through to its conclusion without implicating himself in the murder, is beautifully maintained and the final solution is both logical, satisfying, and in no way a compromise...

The film is one of the best detective films of the 50's, with curious moral values, also one of Preminger's best...

Preminger uses a powerful storytelling technique, projecting pretentious camera angles and peculiar touches of the bizarre in order to externalize his suspense in realism...
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid noir, thanks to Otto Preminger's direction and Joseph LaShelle's cinematography, November 8, 2006
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
There's a hole as big as Carlsbad Caverns right in the middle of the plot. What is so surprising is that, thanks to Otto Preminger's skill and that of his cinematographer, Joseph LaShelle, how the story is told more than makes up for it. Here's the set-up. A police detective with a well-earned reputation for beating up low-lifes tracks down a suspect in a murder. The guy is drunk and the cop is impatient. One thing leads to another and the guy stands up and smacks the cop on the chin. While the cop is picking himself up, the guy reaches for a whiskey bottle and starts to bring it down on the cop's head. The cop blocks that swing, then punches the guy hard, and I mean hard, right in the chest, then connects just as hard with the guy's chin. The guy goes down and doesn't get up. He's dead. So now we're off on a plot-line where the cop's hatred of crooks, which is based on some family issues, suddenly has him hiding the corpse. Wouldn't you know it, the corpse is found...and an aggressive young precinct head decides that the man responsible is the father of a girl the detective starts to fall for. And while this is going on, the detective hasn't stopped his obsessive search for the crook he thinks is really behind the original murder, a sneering mobster with a fondness for nasal inhalers.

Wait, now. Any cop who hit and accidently killed a guy in self defense would instantly have a wall of blue thrown protectively around him, no matter how hard a case he might be. Every resource would be used to see that the cop was exonerated. I know, I know, this is a movie, but Detective Mark Dixon's (Dana Andrews) reaction is so excessive that it becomes nothing more than a glaring plot device. And, in my view, that undermines the tension of the movie.

Another thing that doesn't help is that both Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney (as Margaret Taylor, who becomes Dixon's love interest) are, in my opinion, not compelling actors. Andrews had a great voice but, to my way of thinking, a somewhat wooden face and a stolid acting style. Sometimes he was effective, sometimes not. Tierney is, as usual, gorgeous to look at, but she is no actress. She seems to spend all her time in this movie either being noble toward the man Dixon accidently killed, or noble and loving toward her father, or noble and loving toward Dixon. I'm fairly well convinced that her performance in Leave Her to Heaven, a first-rate acting job, was some mysterious and happy accident.

Some critics have made much of the apparent moral ambiguity in Mark Dixon's character. I don't quite see it that way. Yes, he hates crooks for reasons a psychoanalyst could help him deal with. When given a semi-legal chance to rough them up, he does. But there is no moral ambiguity in his character. He may be an angry man, but he has friends. He doesn't need to agonize about spending his savings to help another person; he just does it. Dixon is a man with problems, but moral ambiguity isn't one of them.

Because of all this, what's important in this movie is how Preminger and LaShelle go about telling the story, not the story itself. They do terrific jobs. The feel of the movie captures Dixon's anger, his short fuse, his loneliness. The movie looks gritty, dark and authentic. Small details add a lot to the sense of reality. When we walk into Dixon's small apartment we can see just a quick glimpse of an icebox behind a screen. Even in 1950 there were a lot of iceboxes still around. The bar where Dixon's partner orders a scotch and water looks like any number of old, dark downtown bars. Margaret Taylor's apartment is tiny. There's no bedroom, just a single bed next to the wall as you walk in. And the movie has faces, actors you sort of recognize who look right for their parts...Tom Tully as Margaret's father, Bert Freed as his partner, Ruth Donnelly as Gladys, the owner of a small Italian restaurant, Karl Malden as the new precinct captain, Neville Brand as one of the goons; even Gary Merrill who overacts a little looks the part as Tommy Scalise, the mobster. Brand, in particular, looks like a man you never want to irritate.

I enjoyed the movie because it was so well put together. That hole in the plot, however, kept me from getting very involved with the story-line. The DVD transfer looks just fine. The major extra is a commentary by Eddie Muller, identified as a film noir historian. I didn't listen to the commentary but Muller has gotten good notices for his noir work.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tight jawed; tense moments; 2 hour tease!, April 24, 2006
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This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
Dana and Gene are fantastic together - both characters are tortured and they take you with them on their journey to discovering love and what the test of life will mean to them both.

Dana Andrews captures the detective who is fist-fighting his father's legacy with every criminal while trying to rise above it all and do his energy's hate as penance.

Gene Tierney brings home the emotion of a woman who wants to love and be loved, but just picks the wrong guys. Then she runs into Dana Andrews and both of them learn life's lessons of love through a terrible experience that frees everyone.

The film is a bit long, but every moment is filled with character, great visual effects, and black and white is the true film color! Otto Preminger is at his calculating best.

Film Noir is wonderful.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue!, October 20, 2005
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This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
It's very exciting to f-i-n-a-l-l-y see this movie released on DVD in the United States. I was thrilled to see it released in the UK by the British Film Institute last year along with 'Whirlpool' and 'Thje Fallen Angel'. This is one of the best film noir. Dana Andrews and Gene have incredible on-screen chemistry and Dana Andrew's performance is simply phenomenal. Cannot go wrong with this one. A 'must to have' for any serious film noir lover.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...is where the gutter begins, March 16, 2007
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This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
Dana Andrews needed a director like Otto Preminger to bring out his best qualities: here, as a police detective who is haunted by his father's criminal past and enjoys roughing up suspects, he gets one of the best roles of his career. In this unusually well written film noir from Fox, Andrews accidentally kills a murderer he was sent to question and must cover up his crime; he falls in love with the murderer's widow (Gene Tierney), and then must scramble when her adoring father is blamed for the murder. The sense of atmosphere here is very fine, and the direction is stunning: there are some great shots in a car elevator, for example, and also in a steam room. Preminger de-emphasizes Andrews's handsomeness and brings out his more weary tough qualities; unfortunately, he can't seem to do much with poor Gene Tierney, who as always seems far too beautiful for the part she's playing. (Things are not helped by the stunning outfits designed for her by her husband Oleg Cassini, who has a small role in the film. Her fabulous plaid coat, for example, has a scarf made exactly to match it, which are both so eye-catching you are distracted by them in every scene they're in.) Gary Merrill, Bette Davis's husband, has a great unusual role as a very insinuating mobster that Andrews's detective can't stand; Karl Malden has a duller role as Andrews's by-the-book rival.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grim Film Noir Hits Its Mark, March 1, 2006
This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
Otto Preminger, completing a noir cycle at Twentieth Century Fox, reunited his "Laura" leads for this stark, gritty detective drama. Dana Andrews again portrays a cop, but this time he's hardened, cynical and has been accused of police brutality by his superior - "You don't hate hoods, you liked to beat them up!". Mark Dixon (Andrews) despises criminals, as his own father was a crook. He doesn't want to be "Sandy Dixon's kid" so he became a policeman, but his methods are harsh and hated.

One night, investigating a murder, he unknowingly punches a suspect, Ken Paine (Craig Stevens) so hard that it kills him. A shaken Dixon does his best to cover it up, intending to frame a hated thug, Scalise (Gary Merrill) for the crime. However, the blame falls on Paine's father-in-law, Jiggs Taylor (Tom Tully), whose daughter, department store model Morgan Taylor (Tierney) is estranged from her husband but keeps getting drawn into his gambling schemes. Paine had slapped his wife, enraging her father, who did show up at his son-in-law's apartment, but not until Dixon had departed with the body. With no better suspects, Jiggs is arrested and charged.

Riddled with guilt, Mark falls for Morgan and offers money for an attorney. He decides to take on Scalise anyway but leaves a letter to be given to the department in the event of his death, confessing everything. In the end, he cannot live with the knowledge with what he has done, and he permits the letter to be read by his superior and by Morgan. Despite all the tragic circumstances, Morgan professes her love for Mark and will wait for him.

It was great to find this film on DVD, after so many years of televised obscurity. Eddie Mueller, a film noir historian, provides the commentary and does a good job, but I find his assertion that audiences wouldn't have caught the significance of the casting of the two leads, since "Laura" had been made six years earlier. In that respect, he is mistaken because they had appeared in "The Iron Curtain" two years prior to WTSE and the film was a box-office success.

Andrews and Tierney were fabulous together, and Ruth Donnelly is tremendous comic relief as restaurant owner Martha, fanning the flames between the detective and the dame.

The night cityscapes give the film an air of menace. Gary Merrill is great as the low-life Scalise, who had a criminal past with Dixon's dad ("Your father liked me," he taunts Mark). Karl Malden and a young Neville Brand are terrific also. And Tom Tully is just touching and funny as Morgan's unjustly accused pop.

A watchable film noir with a fantastic cast.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Noir Police Detective's Struggle with Himself: Cop or Criminal., June 17, 2006
This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" reunites much of the creative team from 1944's "Laura" -director Otto Preminger, cinematographer Joseph LaShelle, and stars Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews- in an archetypal film noir based on the novel "Night Cry" by William L. Stuart. New York police detective Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) inspires scorn and admiration for being tough on criminals. Too tough. Constantly reprimanded for police brutality, one more incident of excessive violence may cost Dixon his career. Called upon to track down a suspect in a murder that occurred at a floating craps game run by a mobster named Scalise (Gary Merrill), Mark finds the man, Ken Paine (Craig Stevens), drunk and reluctant to cooperate. A struggle ensues. Paine falls to the floor, hits his head, and dies. Dixon decides to cover up his role in Paine's death and try to pin it on Scalise. But he didn't count on the chief suspect in Paine's death being the totally innocent father of Paine's estranged wife Morgan Taylor (Gene Tierney), with whom Dixon is smitten.

Mark Dixon is a man torn between doing the right and lawful thing or following the criminal impulse at the core of his nature, inherited from his father. A self-destructive personality and cruel twists of fate combine to put Dixon and everyone he touches in a real predicament. Not surprisingly, it is the criminal who understands him best: Scalise is a sleaze ball, but he doesn't lack perspicacity. He knows what he sees. He calls Dixon "half cop and half killer". Dana Andrews conveys Dixon's duality admirably. Dixon is a laconic man. His words don't often betray his feelings. But we can read the violent rage as well as genuine anguish on his face as he thinks of an innocent man being punished for something that he did. Gene Tierney doesn't have much to do except look pretty. This is really Dana Andrews' film, a noir character study about a man fighting his own demons, his past, and getting little help from Lady Luck.

The DVD (20th Century Fox 2005): There is a theatrical trailer (2 min), a Photo Gallery of 50 publicity, behind-the-scenes, and movie stills, and there is an audio commentary by film noir historian Eddie Muller. Muller discusses Otto Preminger's visual style, including his fluid camera work, minimal cutting, and blocking of scenes. Also discussed are story structure, the cast, writer Ben Hecht, and the film's noir themes, including its place among "bad cop noirs". Subtitles are available for the film in English and Spanish.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tense Film Noir Moral Abyss, June 4, 2006
This review is from: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS is a very good film noir piece of filmmaking. Dana Andrews gives one of his best performances as an introverted NYC cop Mark Dixon whose brutal tactics and demeanor put him on the edge of losing all control of what he should stand for. He is at odds with his superiors, eventually his partner and his own dignity as a human being. When he inadvertently kills a man while investigating a murder he tries to cover it up rather than report it as it happened knowing that his overtly brutal history will defy credibility with the truth. Andrews meets Gene Tierney in the investigation. She is a woman broken by life's disappointments and wants simply to meet a good man to love and be loved. She brings out the tenderness that Andrews keeps suppressed and recognizes that he is truly a good man. However, events turn and twist deepening Andrews' descent into a moral abyss that he seemingly will never escape from as an innocent man is accused of the killing. Andrews brutal facade is tied to kingpin gangster Tom Scalise and Andrews seeks redemption if he can bring his whole history to full circle by taking Scalise down and out. The end results are quite surprising and it strengthens Gene Tierney's faith that she has found the right man and Andrews truly is a man of dignity and worthy of her love. Ben Hecht's script is brilliant putting the viewer through this moral dilemma. Otto Preminger's direction is hard-boiled and seems to have a solid draftsman-like quality about it that unfolds the details of events brilliantly but somehow lacks the emotion behind the tale. Dana Andrews' unheralded performance brings out that emotion visually. His character is a man of few words but the taught expressions seen in his face convey a bitter man haunted and torn looking for something good to come into his life. Gene Tierney's character may seem superficial but she complements and mirrors Andrews' strife exemplifying tenderness while hiding her bitter loved starved emotions holding out as well for something good to come into her life. This is a terrific film and one that you may contemplate as many of its complexities sink into your psyche long after viewing it and can truly be appreciated on reflection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate!, August 8, 2006
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a winning film noir/detective story. Dana Andrews plays a troubled cop with a reputation for abusing suspects. In fact, he is whacked with a demotion at the very outset. Events get complicated when he slaps around his very next perp- a war hero- and the guy hits his head and dies! WSE quickly is in high gear. DA attempts a clumsy cover up. His new boss, Karl Malden, quickly fingers rough and tough Tom Tully as the murderer. He is the perfect fall guy, but the audience, not to mention DA, knows he is innocent. The plot boils when DA gets involved with Tully's daughter, Gene Tierney. Here is the perfect uptown girl in a decidedly downtown location. This plot contrivance is actually believable. Will DA let his girlfriend's Dad go to Sing Sing for a death he caused? The resolution is unmentioned here. Viewers will have to watch WSE for themselves but those who do will not be disappointed. WSE is fast moving and highly credible. There are the required nighttime shots of sleazy night spots, dingy tenements, dark alleys and dank garages. If there was a daytime scene, this viewer missed it. The suspense is maintained throughout, even though the audience has all the "evidence". The reuniting of Andrews/Tierney (after "Laura") by Director Preminger is a complete success. This reviewer made a mistake! He was reading Silver and Ward's "Film Noir" and peeked at the ending! Even so, the resolution to WSE was still a great one, almost shocking! Viewers are urged to savor the atmosphere in this film/noir detective classic and take that fadeout as it comes.
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Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir)
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir) by Otto Preminger (DVD - 2005)
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