Based on a novel by Richard Brooks, army veterans are the suspects in this murder mystery, but the key to understanding it is the motive.
A man is beaten and killed by soldiers in an apartment. Captain Finlay (Robert Young) questions Miss Lewis. Montgomery (Robert Ryan) knocks on the door to find Arthur Mitchell. He is not there, but Finlay found his wallet. The MPs look for Mitchell and take Sergeant Peter Keeley (Robert Mitchum) in for questioning. Keeley tells Finlay that Mitchell could not kill anyone. Finlay calls in Montgomery, who says what happened at the bar. Montgomery and Floyd Bowers (Steve Brodie) meet Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene) and go to his apartment. Mitchell (George Cooper) is there too but leaves. Montgomery resents Jews. Keeley talks with Finlay and then sends men out looking for Mitchell. Harry and Keeley help Mitchell get away from the police.
In a movie theater Mitchell tells Keeley his version. In the bar Samuels tells Mitchell that the war is over, and they need to stop hating and fighting. At Samuels' place Mitchell feels drunk and goes out for air. Mitchell meets Ginny Tremaine (Gloria Grahame) working in a gin mill. He says she reminds him of his wife, and they dance. Ginny gives Mitchell her key, and he goes to her apartment. Tremaine (Paul Kelly) comes in to wait for Ginny and makes contradictory statements. Mitchell tells Keeley that he left. Keeley tells him that his wife is coming.
Montgomery tells Floyd that they have to keep their story straight. Floyd asks Montgomery why he did it. Floyd tells Keeley that he and Mitchell left, and he denies that Montgomery is there. Keeley leaves. Montgomery blames Floyd and knocks him out. Keeley goes to Finlay, who says that Floyd is dead by hanging. Keeley tells Finlay that Mitchell did not kill Samuels and that he is in a movie theater. Mary Mitchell (Jacqueline White) finds her husband, and she goes to Ginny's apartment to ask her to be a witness. Finlay comes in and questions her. Tremaine appears and says that Mitchell was there at 12:30. Finlay holds Mitchell for murder.
Montgomery is brought in, and Finlay asks him if he has seen Floyd. Keeley agrees to help Finlay, who says it was a hate crime. They ask Leroy (William Phipps) to talk to Montgomery to catch him. Finlay says that Montgomery's hate is dangerous and tells how his own grandfather was killed because he was an Irish Catholic. Leroy asks what he should say.
Leroy asks Montgomery if Floyd did it, and he tells Montgomery that Floyd wants to see him and that the necktie was no good. Leroy shows Montgomery the address. Montgomery looks for Floyd, and Finlay says he is dead. Finlay says he is arresting Montgomery for two murders because he came to the right place even though the address was wrong. Montgomery runs away, and the police shoot him dead.
Although the murder victim in the novel was a homosexual,
for a Hollywood movie to portray even anti-Semitism at this time
was risky. After making this film the director Edward Dmytryk
was found guilty of Communist affiliations and was sentenced to
a year in jail.