Oh, man, this is good.
From the start it's good; the credits are quite styish. The fellow at the typewriter symbolizes the hero, a reporter whose eyewitness testimony puts away a guy who swears he didn't do it! The audience has its doubts, too; we're talking about cinema's most famous patsy, after all.
After he's put Elisha "My Goose Is" Cook, Jr. away, the reporter starts to have doubts about the fairness of the trial and the implications of his own testimony. He didn't see the kid croak the old man, after all. This calls for sittimg in a dim office, staring pensively at the telephone:
Well, he has to be guilty. It's not as if the neighborhood is full of strangely accented newly-arrived psychopaths.
Say, could this fellow be evil? Might he be a suspicious character? Well, ask the lighting director:
OF COURSE HE'S GUILTY. It's the lighting that sets this one apart, really - director Boris Ingster amps up the shadows and highlights to create a nightmare world. It's got noir by the bucket, including the obligatory stairway shadow-shot:
This fellow is a nosy neighbor who complains about the hero's late night typing, and when he's murdered - by someone, gosh, don't know who - suspicion naturally falls on the reporter. This leads the reporter to imagine that he might be sent to the chair for a crime he didn't commit, and this leads to the king-hell nightmare dream-sequence in all of noir. It begins with the hero grilled by the bowler brigade:
The headlines go for the soft-sell approach:
The girlfriend reads the news while walking down Vertigo Street:
As for the trial, well;
The jury is literally out: they're all asleep:
Watching the trial in the dream:
Scariest Blind Justice statue EVER:
Annnd it's the Big Chair. Hope they have a booster:
But it's just a dream, and eventually Peter Lorre blows it by trying to kill the girlfriend of the reporter. I don't know why she suspects him at all.
He's all swank Euro charm, this one.