Daniel Mainwaring adapted his own novel about a detective hired by a gambler to find the woman who tried to kill him and then to steal his crooked IRS records, but the detective gets involved with two murders.
Joe Stephanos (Paul Valentine) at a gas station asks for Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum), who is fishing with Ann Miller (Virginia Huston). Joe tells Jeff that Whit wants to see him at his Tahoe house. Jeff tells Ann that Whit was shot by Kathie. Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) tells Jeff that Kathie took $40,000 from him and offers him $10,000 to bring her back.
Jeff follows Kathie's trail to Acapulco. Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) tells Jeff where to wait for her. She gambles, and at a beach he kisses her. Jeff says that Whit is alive and wants her back, but she denies taking his money. Kathie takes Jeff to her place. He suggests they run away from Whit and says he loves her. Whit surprises Jeff, who says he has not found her yet. Whit tells Jeff that he can't quit and leaves. Jeff goes north with Kathie.
Jack Fisher (Steve Brodie) finds Jeff, who separates from Kathie and loses Fisher. Jeff and Kathie meet, but Fisher joins them. He asks for the $40,000. While Jeff is fighting him, Kathie shoots Fisher dead. Jeff sees "40,000" written in her bank book.
Jeff tells Ann that he hasn't seen Kathie since. She drives off, and Jeff goes into Whit's house. Whit asks Jeff to get his income tax records from a blackmailer who had saved him money. Kathie is there and explains to Jeff, who tells her to get out of his room. Jeff writes to Ann that he is going to San Francisco.
There he calls on Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming), who arranges to meet him at attorney Eels' apartment. Leonard Eels (Ken Niles) invites Jeff and Meta for dinner, but Meta and Jeff leave. She goes into the Mason building and sends Jeff away, but he sees her come out with a briefcase. Jeff goes back to Eels' apartment, finds him murdered. and hides the body. Jeff goes back to Meta's apartment and hides as Kathie answers the telephone. Then she calls Joe. Jeff lies to Kathie that he tipped off Eels. Jeff says he is being framed. Kathie says Whit made her sign an affidavit that Jeff killed Fisher. Kathie says they have the briefcase and can get what they want. She tells Jeff they can be together again and kisses him. Jeff leaves to get the briefcase. Joe comes in and tells Kathie that he killed Eels. Jeff knocks out a man and steals the briefcase. When Sterling's men abduct Jeff, they find he has replaced the tax records with a phone book. He offers to trade the tax records for the affidavit. Police prevent them from going to Eels' office, and Kathie calls Whit.
Ann and her parents read that Jeff is wanted for two murders. Joe sees Jeff fishing and is about to shoot him, but the deaf kid (Dickie Moore) hooks Joe, who falls off the rock. Jeff tells Kathie that Joe is dead. Jeff tells Whit that he wants the frame taken off him and put on Joe and Kathie. Whit slaps Kathie and tells her to take the rap or he'll kill her. Jeff offers Whit the records for $50,000. Jeff meets Ann in the woods and kisses her. Jim (Richard Webb) tells Jeff he loves Ann. Jeff finds Whit dead. Kathie suggests going away with Jeff, and he says they deserve each other. Jeff makes a call and drives the car to the police. Kathie shoots Jeff, and the police kill her. In the final scene Ann learns from the deaf kid that Jeff was going away with Kathie, and Ann walks off with Jim.
This complicated film noir depicts ruthless people caught
in intricate intrigues that result in most of them being killed.
Jeff tried to escape to a normal life with Ann, but he got pulled
back into the maelstrom of crime.