A Small-time grifter and pickpocket Skip McCoy (Widmark) gets more than he bargained for when he picks the purse of beautiful courier Candy (Peters). It turns out the purse carries microfilm with top-secret information being sold to Communist spies. Soon Skip and Candy are enmeshed in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse, involving the New York police, the feds, and the spies themselves. Question is, will the pair live long enough to explore their growing mutual attraction?
Idiosyncratic director Sam Fuller's most successful film is prime noir with priceless tough guy patter emanating from the scummy Skip. Also featuring a sultry femme fatale turn from Peters. On-location shooting in lower Manhattan adds an authentic feel and the premise itself is a cut above most standard crime stories: beyond the espionage yarn, the audience yearns to know whether Skip, a man with no conscience, can develop one under extraordinary circumstances. Widmark is aces, as is Thelma Ritter playing Jo, a veteran stoolie. Noir fans should pounce.