Cast & Crew
When private detective Stephen Dancer is shot at on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall by an unseen assailant using a high-powered rifle, Lt. Sam "Mac" McDonald and the District Attorney warn Dancer that racketeer Lou Dykeman is out to kill him for prying into his operations. The district attorney, who convicted the notorious racketeer on a minor charge of bookmaking, tries to enlist Dancer's help in compiling enough charges against Dykeman to warrant a grand jury indictment. Dancer believes that the police would only encumber his own investigation into the shooting and so refuses to cooperate with the district attorney. At the Garret café, Dancer meets Mac, who tells the detective that the police think that his assailant was a man named Gus Alpert from Detroit. Dancer tracks Alpert to the Willard Motel, where he physically coerces him into admitting that an unidentified man called and hired him to kill the detective by noon on Saturday, telling him that he would find explicit written instructions at the Willard Motel. When Alpert makes a move to grab his high-powered rifle, Dancer is forced to kill him in self-defense. Dancer then notifies Mac of the shooting and gives him the note he found on the victim. Dykeman's two top aides, George Merkle and Phil Monte, have left town, and with no other lead to follow, Dancer goes to see Dykeman's girl friend, Sharon Hill. Dancer asks Sharon to tell Dykeman that he is not working for the district attorney, and consequently, presents no danger to the racketeer. That night, as Dancer is in bed, Sharon phones to invite him to dinner the next evening when she will relate Dykeman's reply. Aroused by Sharon's flirtatious manner, Dancer begins to pace his apartment, and soon after, a bomb comes flying into his bedroom window and explodes. After the district attorney chastises Dancer, who was not injured, for withholding information, Dancer goes to see Sharon and accuses her of setting him up. In response, she kisses him and confesses that she wants to break up with Dykeman. At dinner the next night, Sharon tells Dancer that Dykeman claims he is not trying to eliminate the detective. When Sharon confides that she is afraid of Dykeman, Dancer offers to help her get away from him. Later, at the Garrret, Dancer meets Mac, and suggests that Merkle may be behind the assassination attempt because Dancer was responsible for the jailing of Ed Brewster, who is married to Merkle's sister, Jean. Dancer goes to Merkle's place to investigate, and just as he finds a piece of a detonator in a waste basket, Jean enters the house. Under Dancer's questioning, Jean reluctantly reveals that Merkle is in Miami and is expected to return at noon on Saturday. Dancer then returns to Sharon's and takes her to the Garret. They are interrupted by a phone call from gangster Little Charlie Roos, who offers to provide the identity of the bomber for $500 and arranges to meet Dancer at the lily pond in Griffith Park. When Dancer tells Sharon of the plan, she begs him not to go, but he leaves anyway. At Griffith Park, as Charlie is about to hurl a bomb at Dancer, Mac suddenly appears and shoots the gangster. Mac then tells the detective that Sharon, concerned for Dancer's safety, notified him of the meeting. When Dancer reports to the district attorney that Merkle was behind the bombings, the district attorney informs him that Merkle's dead body was found in Miami, floating in Biscayne Bay. With his one suspect eliminated, Dancer returns to the Garret, where Mac tells him that the police suspect that Merkle was killed over a heroin shipment. Dancer asks to break the news to Jean, and when he tells her of her brother's death, she breaks down and confesses that Merkle planned to double-cross Dykeman, steal the drug money and run away with Sharon. Unsettled by the news, Dancer tells Mac that he has a hunch that Merkle is still alive and goes to Sharon's house to question her. As he arrives, Sharon is about to leave, suitcase in hand. Dancer accuses her of sending Charlie to kill him, then calling Mac to assure that he would be at the scene eliminate Charlie. Dancer deduces that the body found in the bay belonged to Monte, Dykeman's bookkeeper, who discovered the double-cross. When Merkle suddenly appears, gun in hand, Dancer shoves Sharon aside, pulls out his weapon and shoots Merkle. As Dancer bends over to reach for the phone, Sharon pulls a gun from her purse and shoots the detective, then walks down the stairs with her satchel full of money, carefully stepping over Merkle's body. The wounded Merkle shoots her as she passes, grabs the satchel, and stumbles out onto the street where he is killed by Mac. As Mac tends to the injured Dancer, he says that he came to Sharon's apartment after discovering that the detective's theory about Merkle being alive was true.
A. G. Vitanza
The working title of the film was Duel In the City. The onscreen credits for this unviewed film were taken from a cutting continuity contained in the film's copyright record. Although most reviews render the title with a hyphen, as The High-Powered Rifle, the copyright records do not include the hyphen. The Variety review mentions that Terrea Lea sings two folk songs in the picture. Although the Variety review lists the character played by Clark Howat at "George Markle," the copyright record spells his name "Merkle."