Van Heflin and Marsha Hunt costar as criminalist Gordon McKay and his assistant, chemist Jane Mitchell, who work to solve the murder of their city's mayor.
McKay and Mitchell exchange zippy dialogue and occasionally flirt while they're doing their jobs; Mitchell is attracted to her boss, but also flattered by the attention of Jerry (Lee Bowman), a special prosecutor.
The audience knows "whodunit" at the outset, and the fun is watching the mystery solved. There are some fascinating insights into crime-solving techniques of the day; in that pre-computer age, much time was spent combing through slides, notebooks, and lists searching for matches to samples.
The movie reflects its era in other ways; there's lots of smoking (I've always wondered if it was actually safe in the lab, with all those chemicals!), and there's also talk about whether crime-solving is a "woman's job." I find such things provide an interesting peek at the times the movie was made in, and all in all, it's quite a fun 74 minutes.
This is a movie I first enjoyed on TCM back in 2007. In 2012 I had the pleasure of seeing it at the Noir City Film Festival. Marsha Hunt was present and related that it was director Fred Zinnemann's first feature film.
She told how Zinnemann gathered everyone on the set the first day of filming, telling cast and crew that it was his first film and while he felt ready to direct, he recognized he was a novice on the set and would be glad to listen to anyone's suggestions. She said after his speech the crew would have killed for Zinnemann. She also said that she had very much enjoyed working with both Van Heflin and Lee Bowman.
The Warner Archive DVD is a good print. The disc includes the trailer.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.