AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Where the Sidewalk Ends
Alternate Title: Night Cry
Director: Otto Preminger (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1950
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 7 Jul 1950; New York opening: 17 Jul 1950
Production Date:   late Jan--mid-Mar 1950
Duration (in mins):   95
Duration (in feet):   8,538
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Dana Andrews (Mark Dixon)  
    Gene Tierney (Morgan Taylor)  
    Gary Merrill (Tommy Scalise)  
    Bert Freed (Klein)  
    Tom Tully (Jiggs Taylor)  
    Karl Malden (Lt. Thomas)  
    Ruth Donnelly (Martha)  
    Craig Stevens (Ken Paine)  
    Robert Simon (Inspector Nicholas Foley)  
    Harry von Zell (Dick Morrison)  
    Don Appell (Willie Bender)  
    Neville Brand (Steve)  
    Grace Mills (Mrs. Tribaum)  
    Lou Krugman (Mike Williams)  
    David McMahon (Harrington)  
    David Wolfe (Sid Kramer)  
    Steve Roberts (Gilruth)  
    Phil Tully (Tod Benson)  
    Ian MacDonald (Casey)  
    John Close (Hanson)  
    John McGuire (Gertessen)  
    Lou Nova (Ernie)  
    Oleg Cassini (Oleg Mayer)  
    Louise Lorimer (Mrs. Jackson)  
    Lester Sharpe (Friedman)  
    Chili Williams (Teddy)  
    Robert Foulk (Feeney)  
    Eda Reiss Merin (Mrs. Klein)  
    Mack Williams (Morris)  
    Clancy Cooper (Lt. Arnaldo)  
    Bob Evans (Sweatshirt)  
    Joseph Granby (Fat man)  
    Charles J. Flynn (Schwartz)  
    Larry Thompson (Riley)  
    Barry Brooks (Thug)  
    Ott George (Thug)  
    Wanda Smith (Model)  
    Shirley Tegge (Model)  
    Peggy O'Connor (Model)  
    Louise Lane (Secretary)  
    Kathleen Hughes (Secretary)  
    Gus Lax (Cab driver)  
    Duke Watson (Cab driver)  
    John P. Barrett (Dealer)  
    John Daheim (Hoodlum)  
    Tony Barr (Hoodlum)  
    John Marshall (Detective)  
    Clarence Straight (Detective)  
    Joe Trebach (Bartender)  
    Herbert Lytton (Joe)  
    Ralph Peters (Counterman)  
    Ralph Brooks (Ticket taker)  
    Fred Graham (Watchman)  
    Robert B. Williams (Officer)  
    Milton Gowman    
    Lee MacGregor    
    Don Diamond    
    Paul Dubov    
    Joe Haworth    
    Joe Mell    
    Paul Picerni    
    Jack Perry    
    Ben Pollock    
    Gertrude Simpson    
    Leonard East    

Summary: New York City police detective Mark Dixon and his partner Klein return to the 16th precinct where Inspector Nicholas Foley introduces them to their new commander, Lt. Thomas. Later, Foley meets with Dixon to inform him that more battery complaints have been filed against him, but Dixon is unrepentant. That evening, informer Willie Bender visits a private gambling club run by gangster Tommy Scalise. There, out-of-towner Dick Morrison, accompanied by Ken Paine and model Morgan Taylor, is on a winning streak shooting craps. After winning nearly $20,000, Morrison gloatingly decides to leave, but Paine, who is in league with Scalise, orders Morgan to convince Morrison to continue playing. Morgan refuses and when Paine slaps her, she departs. Morrison and Paine then get into a brawl over the game, and Morrison is knocked out. Dixon, Klein and Thomas are later summoned to the club, where they find that Morrison has been knifed to death. Scalise tells them that Morrison was losing money and instigated the fight with Paine. Later, Dixon finds Paine drunk in his apartment and although he admits to the fight, he refuses to believe that Morrison is dead. When Dixon asks him to come to headquarters, Paine refuses and strikes the detective. Angered, Dixon immediately hits back, but when he attempts to rouse Paine, discovers that he is dead. As Dixon nervously considers his options, Klein telephones to inquire whether Dixon has located Paine and Dixon lies about having found him. Dixon then disguises himself in Paine's clothes and leaves the building, unaware that he has been noticed by Paine's neighbor. Later, he returns to the apartment, and, finding Klein there, says he was looking for Paine elsewhere, then steers his partner away from the closet where he has hidden Paine's body. Later that night, Dixon returns to remove Paine's body and is forced to hide under the stairway when a man arrives and pounds on Paine's door. After disposing of the corpse, Paine meets Klein at the station, and Thomas tells them that Paine's bag was found at the train station, leading them to believe he has fled town. The next day, following up on Scalise's testimony, Dixon and Klein go to Morgan's modeling agency. She informs them that she is Paine's wife, although they have been separated for three months, and that she met with him without knowing that he intended to use her as bait to get Morrison to gamble. From her description of the evening, Dixon realizes her father was the man at Paine's door. Dixon invites Morgan out after she finishes work and she agrees, provided they stop at her home first. There, Morgan introduces Dixon to her cab driver father Jiggs, who recalls being a driver on one of Dixon's cases. Later, Morgan describes her rocky marriage to Paine, but their meal is interrupted when Dixon receives a call from Thomas reporting that Paine's body has been discovered. Thomas reveals that Paine had a metal plate in his head from a war wound, making his fall on the floor, not the blow, fatal. Although relieved that Paine's death was accidental, Dixon is determined to pin Paine's and Morrison's deaths on Scalise. Thomas, however, believes that Paine killed Morrison and Jiggs killed Paine, and so has Jiggs arrested. Dixon sets out to connect Scalise to the case, yet when he confronts the gambler, he is beaten up by his thugs. Dixon then visits Morgan, who has been fired because of the publicity surrounding her father's arrest. Dixon advises her to hire a lawyer, but she admits that Paine squandered their savings. That night, Dixon asks Klein for a loan and the next day arranges for Morgan to meet a reputable lawyer. Later, Foley strongly chastises Dixon for his clumsy attempt at questioning Scalise, yet orders his men to pick up Scalise's right-hand man, Steve. After putting Dixon on enforced leave, Foley tells Thomas to lean on Steve the way Dixon would. Dixon meets Morgan, who is crestfallen that the lawyer has refused Jiggs's case. Moved by her distress, Dixon describes his family history and how his father's criminal activities pushed him into law enforcement, yet left him wondering about his own capacity for lawlessness. Dixon assures Morgan that Jiggs will be fine, then leaves and picks up Willie to arrange a meeting with Scalise, who agrees to send a car for him. Before the meeting, Dixon writes a note to Foley, confessing to his part in Paine's accidental death, the cover-up, and his hopes for redemption. Later, Dixon is taken to Scalise's hideout, and when the gambler taunts Dixon about his father, Dixon attacks him, prompting Scalise to shoot him in the arm. After receiving a call advising them that Steve has confessed to murdering Morrison, Scalise and his men try to flee, but Dixon cuts the building's power. Thomas then arrives and the gang is arrested. Back at headquarters, Foley praises Dixon and returns his letter, unopened. Dixon, who is accompanied by Morgan, hesitates, then asks Foley to read the letter. Dixon then asks Foley to allow Morgan to see the letter, and, afterward, as Foley places Dixon under arrest, she promises to wait for him. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Otto Preminger (Dir)
Producer: Otto Preminger (Prod)
  Frank P. Rosenberg (Assoc prod)
Writer: Ben Hecht (Scr)
  Victor Trivas (Adpt)
  Frank P. Rosenberg (Adpt)
  Robert E. Kent (Adpt)
Photography: Joseph LaShelle (Dir cine)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art dir)
  J. Russell Spencer (Art dir)
Film Editor: Louis Loeffler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Wheeler (Set dec)
  Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Ward dir)
  Oleg Cassini (Cost des)
Music: Cyril Mockridge (Mus)
  Alfred Newman (Mus)
  Lionel Newman (Mus dir)
  Edward Powell (Orch)
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: George D. Groh (Tech adv)
  John P. Barrett (Tech adv)
  Jack Perry (Tech adv)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Night Cry by William L. Stuart (New York, 1948).
Authors: William L. Stuart

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 4/7/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP230

PCA NO: 14458
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Film noir
Sub-Genre: Police
 
Subjects (Major): Accidental death
  False arrests
  Murder
  Police brutality
  Police detectives
 
Subjects (Minor): Apartment buildings
  Corpses
  Fathers and daughters
  Fistfights
  Gambling
  Gangsters
  Husbands
  Jails
  Masseurs
  Models
  Neighbors
  New York City
  Restaurants
  Separation (Marital)
  Taxicab drivers
  Witnesses

Note: The working title of this film was Night Cry . According to contemporary news items, William L. Stuart's novel was originally purchased in late Mar 1948 by Frank Rosenberg for production through Colony Pictures, and distribution through United Artists. Howard Duff was signed by Rosenberg to star in the picture, according to a 10 Aug 1949 HR news item. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, writers employed by Rosenberg to work on the screenplay included Karl Kamb, Bernard Gordon and Julian Zimet. The extent of their contributions to the completed picture, if any, has not been determined. The legal records also reveal that Rosenberg sent the script to Ring Lardner, Jr., but Lardner's suggestions were not incorporated into the screenplay. In Nov 1949, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased from Rosenberg his drafts and the screen rights to Stuart's book.
       A Dec 1949 HR news item noted that Lee J. Cobb was suspended by the studio for refusing a role in the picture, and in Jan 1950, HR announced that Tom Tully had been signed for the part that Cobb refused. Another Jan 1950 HR news item stated that Broadway actor Ralph Roberts been cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to studio records, Adelaide Klein was originally signed to play "Martha," and portions of the picture were shot on location in New York City. HR news items state that production was delayed when Dana Andrews' nose was injured in a fight staged for the film. Oleg Cassini, who designed the costumes worn by his then wife, actress Gene Tierney, made his screen acting debut in the film.
       Due to screenwriter Ben Hecht's proclaimed anti-British views, in regard to England's political relationship with Palestine, the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association passed a resolution in 1948 stating that none of its members would show a film with which Hecht was associated, according to a 26 Nov 1950 NYT article. The article notes that Where the Sidewalk Ends was exhibited in England, however, because Hecht was hired to work the picture before the ban was enacted. Hecht's name was removed from the onscreen credits, however, and the pseudonym "Rex Connor" was inserted.
       Stuart's novel was the basis for a Suspense radio broadcast on 7 Oct 1948, and Andrews reprised his film role on a 2 Apr 1951 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story, which co-starred Anne Baxter. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   1 Jul 1950.   
Daily Variety   9 Nov 1949.   
Daily Variety   26 Jun 50   p. 3, 11.
Film Daily   26 Jun 50   p. 6.
Harrison's Reports   1 Jul 50   p. 102.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 1948.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 1948.   
Hollywood Reporter   6 Oct 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Aug 48   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Dec 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Dec 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 50   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jan 50   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jan 50   p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jan 50   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Feb 50   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Feb 50   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 50   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Feb 50   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Mar 50   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Mar 50   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jun 50   pp. 3-4.
Motion Picture Daily   26 Jun 1950.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   1 Jul 50   p. 365.
New York Times   8 Jul 50   p. 7.
New York Times   26 Nov 1950.   
Variety   28 Jun 50   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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