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A crusading politician falls prey to the temptations of power.
At the end of World War I, Tim Brady greets his brother Matt, who has returned home a captain. Tim, who is the political boss of the city's fourth ward, has reared the much younger Matt, but the two are constantly at odds. That night, when a quarrel turns into a barroom brawl between Matt and his friend Robert Herrick, Tim has them thrown out. While Bob, who is entering law school, suggests to Matt that a lot of money could be made in town, Matt suddenly realizes that he is very late for a date with his sweetheart, Elsie Reynolds, and asks Bob, who also likes Elsie, to come with him to explain what happened. When Elsie refuses to open her door, Matt becomes enraged and threatens to break it down. After she opens the door, Matt continues his tirade, saying he was going to propose but now wants nothing to do with her. Later, Matt is sitting at a diner when he sees a man drop some unpaid punch card tickets onto a table occupied by plain-looking Lorry Reed. When Lorry pays for her meal, the waiter thinks she has tried to discard the tickets to avoid paying for them. He threatens to call the police, but Matt intervenes and knocks him out. Lorry lets Matt escort her out, but protests that she is not pretty enough when he assumes that she is a streetwalker. Matt drunkenly says she is pretty, insisting he would not marry anyone who was not. Realizing Matt is suggesting they get married, the bewildered Lorry tries to dissuade him, but acquiesces when Matt cruelly asks what she would have to lose. Awakening the next morning, Matt sees Lorry sleeping and regrets his impulsiveness. He goes to Bob to tell him what happened and asks him to apologize for him to Elsie. Back in his room, just after Lorry awakens and apologizes to Matt for not stopping their marriage, Tim arrives and angrily says he will handle things because they will be divorced within two weeks. Matt screams that there will never be a divorce and grabs his brother, threatening to kill him. Sadly admitting that he has not been a good surrogate father for Matt, Tim leaves. A few minutes later, the desk clerk comes to the door and tells Matt that his brother Tim has just dropped dead in the lobby. Within a few years, Matt, who is now the boss of the entire city, stands alongside Governor Beck when the city's new Union Station is dedicated to Tim. Meanwhile, Lorry, who has come to love the unresponsive Matt, is home alone. That afternoon, Matt warns petty criminal Johnny Mazia, the son of an old family friend, to stay out of trouble. When Matt arranges to have pending charges against Johnny dropped, a grateful Johnny gives Matt a tip on a horse that enables Matt to win thousands of dollars. That same day, Bob returns to town after completing law school. Although Bob has married Elsie, Matt does not hold a grudge and easily convinces his friend to become his lawyer. While Bob is in Matt's office, Matt coerces cement factory owner Roy Millard into selling Matt half of the interest in the business in exchange for making sure that the company gets lucrative city contracts. That night, Matt gives an expensive diamond necklace to Lorry, who is surprised and happy until she learns that he has invited Bob and Elsie to dinner and wants to impress Elsie. After an uncomfortable evening, Lorry tells Matt that she will give him a divorce so he can marry Elsie. He snaps that he will never divorce her, and when she says that she will divorce him because she cannot live without love, he threatens to have her committed to an insane asylum if she mentions it again. As the years pass, Matt and Bob's wealth increases, and Bob is made state insurance commissioner. When he tells Matt about a multi-million-dollar bond that the insurance companies want returned to them, Matt tells him to return it all, as he does not want the government after them. Roy then calls Matt to come to the cement works. There Matt is greeted by Roy's brother Stanley, a crusading newspaper editor who wants to break up the city's political machine. He demands that Matt buy Roy's half interest in the business and is surprised when Matt tells him to name his price. Later, Matt laughs about the incident with Bob, telling him that Stanley named a price far less than the business was actually worth. Before Matt can come up with the money, though, the stock market crashes, leaving him broke, with huge gambling debts. Lorry tries to comfort Matt, but he again rejects her. Desperate for money, Matt makes a deal with Johnny, who is now a powerful gangster wanting to expand his operations. Some time later, Johnny tells Matt that his underling Lazetti has been arrested in Arkansas and is likely to talk to the authorities in Washington. Johnny suggests taking Lazetti when he and federal agents are changing trains at Union Station. Matt agrees, but orders Johnny not to involve sadistic henchman Stitch, and not hurt anyone. When the ambush takes place, however, Stitch and Johnny's other henchman draw machine guns and kill many people, including innocent bystanders. Learning of the slaughter, Matt is furious and gives Johnny forty-eight hours to give Stitch up to the police. Later, Matt gets a call from Elsie, who is worried because Bob has not come home. When Stitch calls to inform Matt that they have taken Bob hostage and demands that Matt meet them at the cement works, Matt goes to the police station. There Chief Hillary is surrounded by Stanley and several other civic leaders, who tell Matt he is through. Hillary offers Matt protection, knowing he is in danger for coming to the police, but Matt refuses. He then goes to the cement works to meet Johnny, and agrees to all of Johnny's terms, giving him seventy-five percent of the business in exchange for Bob's safe return. As Johnny leaves, he sees the police and runs up the factory's staircases, shooting at Matt, who is in pursuit. When Johnny's gun is empty, he and Matt scuffle until Johnny falls to his death. Soon Stanley, now a special prosecutor, indicts Matt. During his trial, Bob shocks Matt by taking the stand for the prosecution and testifying that Matt took over a million dollars of the insurance bond money. Matt protests Bob's lies, but is convicted of fraud. Out on a bond paid by Lorry, Matt returns home. Lorry tells him that Bob was never his friend, but Matt defends him, saying that the truth would have been as bad as the lies. When Lorry says she is leaving him because he has never loved her, Matt kisses her, but it is too late. As Matt enters prison, he is a broken man.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Omaha, NE opening: 22 Aug 1956; Des Moines, IA opening: 23 Aug 1956; Los Angeles opening: 10 Oct 1956|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Seltzer Films, Inc., Window Productions, Inc.|
Leonard Maltin Ratings & Review
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User Ratings & Review
Great Acting.**Worth watching**
This movie was well done and had alot going on in it. I was surprised to see it was made in 1956, as the great lighting made it seemed to have the feel of...