Brian Donlevy stars in this serious film noir about a successful man who adores his wife but discovers almost too late what a shocking femme fatale she really is. Bashed in the head & left on the roadside for dead, his wife's lover flees the crime only to crash into a gas truck & get burned to a crisp. The world soon believes Donlevy's character Walt Williams was burned beyhond recognition in the crash, & that his wife's lover is on the lam. She's tossed in jail, charged with the murder she planned but which did not actually occur.
Walt with a concussion but surviving the assault finds his way to Idaho, changes his name to Bill, & takes on work as an auto mechanic in a gas station owned by the breautiful & good Marsha (Ella Raines). His newfound cynicism about love keeps walls between them, & he secretly collects newspaper clippings about his wife's murder case, bitterly wanting her to get the maximum the law can do to her
Eventually Marsha learns the truth & convinces Bill/Walt to do the right thing & not let his wife take a rap for a murder that did not occur. But on returning to San Francisco, the spectacularly evil wife (Helen Walker) concocts a vengeful tale that lands Walt in jail for murdering his wife's lover.
As in many films of the period & type, city life is shown to be one of vile havoc, but the rural town provides a healing idyll. It's a simple but fine story, & it is dressed up considerably by a small but important role for Anna May Wong, one of the greatest actors of the time who rarely got to shine because roles for Chinese women were few & restrictive. But anyone who has seen her in Picadilly (1929) at the height of her beauty will be glad to see her in anything else, even if just the heroic maid servant in Impact.
Charles Coburn as the stalwart aging detective who truly wants to get to the truth of the case is also wonderful to see acting. Some great location shots of San Francisco adds another level of delight.
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