Don Siegel directed this gripping film about drug smugglers who use unsuspecting tourists as their way of getting heroine into the USA.
Eli Wallach is Dancer and Robert Keith is Julian, two mobsters who arrive in San Francisco to retrieve some heroine that has been stashed in tourists belongings. Julian is always having to keep Dancer calm and enjoys writing down people's last words before they die.
The two men are driven thru San Francisco by Sandy McLain (Richard Jaeckle). Dancer kills the butler of his first contact and the second one goes without incident, but the third one destroys their plan entirely.
The heroine was planted inside a doll that a little girl has and when Dancer breaks into her home he discovers that the drugs are no longer there and that the child thought it was makeup and used it on the dolls face.
As the police begin to track closer and closer to these killers, Dancer tries desperately to explain to "The Man"(Vaughn Taylor) about why the drugs are missing. Least to say all does not end well.
This is a vicious and mean film noir gem that Wallach makes even better. His character of Dancer is cold and hard hearted and the way he treats the child and her mother is truly terrifying.
From the opening scene of a drug pickup going wrong to Dancer's demise, this film holds your attention and never lets go. The supporting cast includes Emile Meyer, Raymond Bailey, William Leslie, Mary LaRoche and Warner Anderson.
A highly effective piece of cinema.