After seeing this film, it is hard to see Robert Mitchum as a suave cool man who dominated gritty films of the fifties. He so embodies the character he plays in this film, that you think that deep down inside, Robert Mitchum is a lonesome loser gun runner. The only friend he seems to have is Peter Boyle, who plays this slimy police informant and is using Mitchum in order to get to harder criminals. He is starring another prison sentence in the face, and her would do anything in order to avoid having his family go on welfare and not see them for years. He has qualms about squawking on his fellow criminals even though they rolled over on him and fed him to the police. he just wants to make money and not get caught. However no matter what he does for the people he works for, he gets screwed over either by them or by the informant he is working with. The informant wants everything that Mitchum can give him, even if it puts his life in danger. YOu feel so sorry for Mitchum and yet you can’t help being on Peter Boyle’s side when he screws him over again and again.
The look of the film I thought was interesting. In this genre of film, it is usually filmed in black and white or muted colors. However in this film, one of the gun runners has a bright green muscle car. The sun drenches the screen as they arrest many key characters and Mitchum’s wife is filmed in mostly white fabrics. Even if the screen is full of light, the light can still become a damning and judgemental force, just like black and white can become.
I liked this film for the performances more than anything. I loved the wild and crazy gun dealer who Mitchum deals with. I love Peter Boyle as a non-Frankenstein’s monster character (although I did joke to my boyfriend when he first came on the screen about Puttin on the Ritz). I love the fast dialogue and the stories Mitchum tells about his days in crime. Although Mitchum is a pitiful creature, the director treats him fairly and maybe even with some love. However it just makes him more pitiful in my eyes.