This film covers lots of ground. It starts out being a slice of life in Depression era New York City where New York cop on the beat Danny Dolan (Spencer Tracy) meets diner waitress Helen Riley (Joan Bennett) and they fall in love after a rather raucous romance. During this time, Danny gets a promotion and becomes a detective on the force. This is the precode part of the film.
The noir part of the story has to do with Helen's sister, Kate. She had been in love with gangster Duke Castenega, but when he left town she got engaged to the horse-faced but honest and steady Eddie, who is a merchant seaman. Kate gets married and Duke is captured and sent to prison but manages to escape, finding his way back to Kate while Eddie is out to sea. This is the noir part - Kate willing to blow up her life over a strong physical attraction to Duke that I think even she mistakes for love.
The two parts of the film intersect when Danny is one of a group of detectives tasked with bringing Duke in, with Helen having divided loyalty between Danny and her sister.
There are lots of interesting, poignant, and funny scenes - Danny and Helen playing out a scene from "Strange Interlude" that they remember as "Strange Innertube", Danny rescuing a dog that his homeless and hungry owner is getting ready to drown out of desperation, Kate's drunken wedding reception and her dad throwing the radio out the window. As for the dog that is rescued, I thought it was odd everybody was so interested in the dog having plenty to eat, but nobody ever bothered to help his elderly and equally hungry owner who had already said that if he had the nerve he would kill himself. Some things never change.
What took an entire star off of my rating were the tedious scenes involving a perpetual drunk who just gets annoying. Every time I think he is gone for good he comes back, ruining every scene he is in. Fortunately, he is completely gone during the second half as the action and drama part heats up.
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