I felt compelled to take a look at this one for reuniting of Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, after their display of chemistry in The Third Man, which never got much a chance to percolate in Graham Greene’s mordantly cruel scenario. Cotten plays a diametrically different character in this film, a wandering card sharp and thief, Steve, who arrives one day in the “little big city” of Ashton, tosses a coin, and decides to make his new life here.
The final scene is damned awkward in trying to satisfy Mr Breen, the happy ending, and its own recklessly romantic heart all at once. Cotten is swell as the feckless faux-tough, and he and fellow Kane alumnus Stewart work sweetly together as brother losers. Valli registers emotions with a miniaturist’s grace, particularly in the biting scene in which she watches Cotten dance with a local girl.