- Directors: Nicholas Ray
- Producers: Robert Lord
- Writers: Story, Dorothy B Hughes, Screenplay, Edmund H North, Andrew Solt
- Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
- Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Dixon ‘Dix’ Steele (Humphrey Bogart), a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who hasn’t had a hit in years, meets his agent, Mel Lippman (Art Smith), at a nightclub. Mel wants him to adapt a book for a movie. When they enter the club, the hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart), is engrossed reading it and asks if she can finish it.
When Dix leaves, he is too tired to read the novel, so he asks Mildred to go home with him, to explain the plot. As they enter the courtyard of his apartment building, they encounter a new tenant, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame). Mildred then describes the story and confirms what he had suspected – the book is trash. He gives her cabfare and she leaves.
The next morning, he is awakened by an old army buddy, police detective Brub Nicholai (Frank Lovejoy), who takes him downtown to be questioned by Captain Lochner (Carl Benton Reid). Mildred was murdered during the night and Dix is a suspect. Laurel is brought to the police station and confirms seeing the girl leave Dix’s apartment alone, but Lochner is still deeply suspicious; Dix shows absolutely no sympathy for the dead victim.
When Dix gets home, he checks up on Laurel. He finds out that she is an aspiring actress, with only a few low-budget films to her credit. They begin to fall in love; this invigorates Dix into going back to work with a vengeance, much to his agent’s delight.
Just then, the phone rings. It is Brub with good news: Mildred’s boyfriend (the character is named Henry Kesler, the same as the film’s associate producer) has confessed to her murder. Tragically, it is a day too late to salvage Dix and Laurel’s relationship.