(director: Arnold Laven; screenwriter: from a story by William Raynor/William Raynor; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Arthur H. Nadel; music: Herschell Burke Gilbert; cast: Adam Williams (Carl Martin), Meg Randall (Jane), Edward Binns (Lieutenant Pete Hamilton), Harlan Warde (Detective Donald Warde), Angela Stevens (Janet Collier), Marilee Phelps (Virginia), Connie Vera (Carmelita), Byron Kane (Charlie Wilkins), John Maxwell (Fred Saunders, nursery owner), Robert Shayne (Dr Werner); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Arthur Gardner/Jules V. Levy; Dark Sky Films; 1952)

“This early psycho flick has a lot in common to the same year’s The Sniper.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Arnold Laven (“The Glory Guys”/”Vice Squad”/”Down Three Dark Streets”) does a solid job helming this serial killer slasher flick. William Raynor scripts it from his own story. It’s shot in a semi-documentary style (much like TV’s Dragnet), and serves as an entertaining lesser film noir. It’s well-paced, taut and the performances are all crisp (especially the one of Adam Williams as the killer). The editor, Arthur H. Nadel, was eighteen in 1950 when he worked on D.O.A. and holds the record as the youngest film editor in history. This early psycho flick has a lot in common to the same year’s The Sniper (1952), but is not as accomplished. It has recently been discovered again after long being unavailable.

Carl Martin (Adam Williams) is a clean-cut, withdrawn, loner, handsome gardener, who has become deranged ever since his unfaithful blonde wife left him. To exact revenge on her, Carl picks up look-alike blondes in bars and stabs them in the back with garden shears. As the murders mount up, dedicated LA detectives–Lt. Pete Hamilton (Edward Binns) and Sgt. Donald Warde (Harlan Warde)–head the investigation, and in this largely police procedural tale show how they make use of the barest clues, wisely use the lab technician, police shrink, undercover decoy policewomen and do a lot of leg work to hunt down the elusive killer. It’s through the forensic evidence collected at the many crime scenes that finally results in the psychopath’s capture, which comes just before he attempts to kill the daughter (Meg Randall) of the nursery owner where he usually does business.

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