Cast & Crew
Reporter Lew Marsh is fired from the Sun-Herald after too many drinking binges and subsequently loses his girl friend and fellow reporter, Paula Arnold. However, not until he passes out on the street, barely escaping death, does he vow to quit drinking. After his release from the hospital, Lew's recovery is aided by Charley Dolan, an elderly ex-alcoholic, who shares his apartment and helps Lew get a job on a road construction crew. Charley counsels Lew to find a way to live with the lifelong disease, noting that all one's efforts can be destroyed by just one drink. Although Lew seems to settle into a life of sobriety, his resolve is challenged by the announcement of Paula's marriage to Boyd Copeland, the nephew of his former boss, Sun-Herald owner John Ives. When Lew admits to Charley that he still craves liquor, Charley suggests that Lew needs to exercise his mind and urges him to return to the newspaper. Surprised to be rehired by the Sun-Herald , Lew sublimates his cravings by throwing himself into his work, and after several years, becomes the city editor. His reputation for helping recovering alcoholic reporters gets Ives's attention and the publisher assigns him to rehabilitate Boyd, who is heir to the Ives empire and a promising composer when sober. Although Lew doubts that he can help Boyd, he is flown to Ives's mansion, where he learns from Paula that Boyd has also taken up with another woman. After meeting Boyd's smothering, interfering mother, Dolly Copeland, Lew suggests to Ives that she might be part of the problem. During Lew's first night at the mansion, he is awakened by a performance of Boyd's unfinished piano concerto, and meets Boyd and the nameless dog he adopted while carousing in Miami. Lew's straightforwardness earns the trust of the inebriated Boyd, who tells Lew of his plans to marry a singer, Maria Diego. However, the next day Boyd disappears and Ives charges Lew with tracking him down. Lew assigns his group of reformed reporters to aid in the search for Boyd, whose alcoholic routines they would understand. After the reporters learn that Maria has been the girl friend of a jealous mobster, Lennie Garr, Lew confronts Lennie, threatening him with the power of the Ives empire if harm comes to Boyd. The reporters find Boyd at a bar, and Lew takes him home to Charley, who sees goodness in the spoiled young man and wants to help him. Meanwhile, troubled by her failing marriage, Paula wants to bury herself in work and asks Lew for a job. Although he realizes the potential conflict of interest involved, Lew hires her and wonders if they can get back together. While staying with Charley and Lew, Boyd shows little interest in saving himself until Charley is killed in a car accident that appears to be Boyd's fault. Angry and grieving, Lew proceeds to a bar to order a drink, but is interrupted by one of his reporters, who tells him that the brake hose in the car was punctured, presumably by mechanic Kip Zunches, Lennie's henchman. Lew and his reporters surmise that Lennie is jealous of Boyd and had the car sabotaged. Meanwhile, a remorseful Boyd is frightened into sobriety, but during the pains of withdrawal, he attempts suicide. Lew intervenes and has Boyd hospitalized, but promises to help when he is released, just as Charley helped him. Lew then turns his attention to rousting Lennie, and gets the cooperation of the mayor and other authorities to probe into Lennie's activities. When Kip is found dead, apparently sacrificed by Lennie, who is nervous about the attention over Charley's death, Lew doggedly continues his investigation. Paula shows up at Lew's apartment to stop his "schoolboy heroics," but their conversation is interrupted by a call from Boyd. Expecting that Boyd needs to be talked through an alcohol craving, Lew is surprised when he arrives at Boyd's apartment and finds the composer doing well. Boyd tells Lew that Maria called him, asking for money to hide from Lennie. After they decide to use the opportunity to get evidence against Lennie from Maria, Boyd picks up Maria to bring her to his apartment, unaware that Lennie is following him. As Lew waits for Boyd's return, he sees how Boyd replaced the liquor in his bar with photographs of Paula. Realizing that Boyd still loves Paula, he calls her, hoping to reunite the couple. When Boyd returns with Maria, the singer admits that Lennie is trying to get rid of Boyd, and Lew convinces her to testify in court. However, Lennie and his henchman, Cully Yates, show up with plans to push Maria out the window, kill Lew and Boyd, and make their deaths appear to be the result of a drunken brawl over the woman. When Lennie tries to force them at gunpoint to drink, Boyd and Lew fight the gangsters. In the struggle, Lennie is shot dead and Cully knocked out. While they wait for the police to arrive, Lew's reporters scoop the other newspapers with the story, and the truth comes out about Charley's death. Through Lew's efforts, Paula and Boyd reunite.
Norma Jean Macias
Alan Crosland Jr.
William L. Kuehl
Leo K. Kuter
Best Supporting Actor
According to a May 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, James Millican was initially cast in the film. June and July 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items also added the following actors to the cast: Steve Caruthers, Joe Forte, Paul Panzer, Angelita McCall, Alfredo Santos and John Halloran, but their appearance in the finished film have not been confirmed. Warner Bros. publicity material states that portions of the film were shot in Los Angeles, and that the saloon scenes were shot in the Maple Bar, which reportedly held the oldest liquor license in Los Angeles, dating before 1900.
For his performance, Gig Young was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Karl Malden in A Streetcar Named Desire. An adaptation of the film aired on a April 5, 1955 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast starring Van Heflin and Mona Freeman.