In one of John Huston's best told stories as a director, Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) gets involved with a group of jewel thieves in on a deal to score half a million dollars in the Midwest. But things get complicated, as they usually do, but in some unexpected ways. This is a crime story that has 'film-noir' written all over it, with stark, striking cinematography (some great close-ups of Hayden in a few key moments), slick, bare-bones direction from Huston, and the best cast of character actors one could hope to see- Hayden is terrific as Handley, a kind of archetype for the tough guy in many hard-boiled crime stories; Jaffee and Calhern are perfect as the Doc Riedenschneider, quirky but smart mastermind behind the caper, and the scheming rich man Emmerich fronting the money for the caper. Marilyn Monroe, in her first scenes in any movie, is a highlight as well as the sort of ditsy dame of the story. The climax is a knockout, and the robbery scenes themselves are quite tense, but the details leading up to the robbery and the aftermath are the best parts.