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A convict¿s loyalty to the mob is when they threaten his pregnant wife.
Ed Novak, a loyal and dutiful member of the Combination crime syndicate, believes the organization will always come to his aid. When he is arrested for bookmaking, the Combination's lawyer bails him out and pays him a $250 compensation fee. With the money, the happily married Ed buys his pregnant wife Frances a second-hand mink coat, and cannot understand why she rejects the gift upon learning it was bought with "dirty" money. Ed assumes that the Combination will arrange for his acquittal, but at the trial, the judge offers to release him only if he will provide information about the syndicate. As "squealing" on his associates is unthinkable to Ed, he is taken directly to prison. In the prison yard, Ed approaches Steve Marlin, the head of the Combination who has been sentenced for tax evasion and asks for his help in getting released, so that he can be with Frances, who is having a difficult pregnancy. Marlin, who lacks that kind of influence, dismisses him, which provokes Ed to attack. When Marlin's henchmen begin beating Ed, the prison guards come to his rescue, but he refuses to name his assailants when questioned by Warden Keller. Despite Ed's stubbornness, Dr. Lewy, the prison psychiatrist, believes the convict is a decent man, especially after learning that Ed's loyalty to the Combination arose when, as a teenager, the syndicate saved him from an abusive policeman. When Marlin learns from corrupt guard Weaver that Ed refused to testify against him, Marlin invites Ed to the power plant that night for a drink of illegally obtained whiskey to "celebrate." Ed, using a library pass to gain entrance to the area, arrives in time to see Weaver knock out Kadinski, an honest guard who caught Marlin's men breaking prison rules. After sending Ed away, Lupo, Marlin's most brutish henchman, uses a transformer to electrocute Kadinski. Although the guard's death appears accidental, the suspicious Keller arrests Dan Bucci, one of Marlin's men caught near the murder site, and questions Ed, whose unused library pass looks suspicious. Believing that Ed knows something, Keller tries to pressure him into talking by assigning him to work in the library, a "soft job" which will cause prisoners to speculate that he has betrayed them. Lewy argues to Keller that Ed lives by a code of honor, however misguided, and that his less virtuous colleagues will kill him for what he knows. Keller then explains that he must find and punish Kadinski's murderer if he is to maintain control of the prison. Although Keller assigns a guard to protect Ed, the guard is later tricked into leaving his post and Ed is lured to the library basement, where Marlin's men beat him. Although Ed convinces Marlin that he has not betrayed him, Marlin threatens to hurt Frances if he does. After Frances unsuccessfully tries to convince her husband to tell the authorities about the syndicate, Lewy and Keller offer to release Ed for the birth of his child if he agrees to cooperate. Even though Ed knows that Frances is experiencing a precarious pregnancy, he is more worried about her being endangered by the syndicate and refuses to talk. Deciding his only option is to escape with Frances to Mexico, he makes plans to break out and enlists Marlin's help by threatening to talk. One night, Ed hijacks Lewy and his car at knifepoint and orders him to drive through the prison gate. Near the gate, Lewy abruptly hits his brakes and throws the car keys out of the window. When Ed gets out of the car to retrieve them, Weaver, under orders from Marlin to kill, shoots and injures Ed, claiming afterward that he "suspected" an escape attempt. Lewy denies that Ed was attempting a breakout and takes the injured man to the hospital. There he persuades Ed that the Combination is plotting to kill him. After Lewy promises him confidentiality, Ed reveals all he knows about the syndicate in a letter and seals it in an envelope, which Lewy hides without reading as Ed's "insurance." Ed then tells Marlin about the note, which will be delivered to Keller should anything happen to him. Later, two of Marlin's men pretending to be policemen abduct Frances, whose postman reports her disappearance to the police. After a neighbor describes one of the men as belonging to the syndicate, police detective Lt. Soberman tells Ed about his wife's disappearance and asks for his help. Afraid to reveal anything, Ed instead confronts Marlin, who threatens to have Frances killed unless Ed turns over the letter. When Ed asks Lewy's assistance, the psychiatrist agrees to help, now realizing that Ed has been protecting his wife. The following evening, Frances calls Lewy from a pay phone, reporting that she is unharmed, but still being trailed by thugs. Assuming the thugs will harm Frances after she hangs up, Lewy alerts Soberman to send out a police car, sending the thugs scurrying when they hear the siren. Knowing that she is safe, Lewy then delivers the letter to Marlin's henchman, which Weaver secretly retrieves and destroys. Marlin then takes Ed captive in an unoccupied machine shop, but as he prepares to shoot Ed with a gun, his less callous henchman, Stringbean, protests and is killed by his cohorts. Ed manages to escape his captors and jumps through a glass window into the prison yard where guards rounded up by Keller and Lewy are preparing to rescue him. Among the guards is Weaver, who shoots Ed against Keller's orders. When the other guards commence shooting at Marlin and his men, Weaver abstains. Marlin, however, assumes Weaver has double-crossed him and shoots him. When Marlin is killed, the remaining thugs surrender. After Frances safely gives birth, Lewy takes the recovered Ed to see her and their newborn son. Hearing from Lewy that his cooperation will result in a shorter sentence, Ed promises that he will then get a "decent job."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 9 Mar 1956|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||86 or 88||Country:||United States|
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