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Arrogant young Ralph Barton drives his hot rod into a service station and asks owner Ken Osanger for a job as a mechanic. Just then, however, a police car pulls up, and Ralph bolts into the garage to hide. Intrigued, Ken introduces Ralph to his head mechanic, Scotty Cluett, who sneers at Ralph's tough attitude. Later, Ralph convinces the local landlady to rent him a room, but when she hears that he has met Scotty, she raises the rent. That night, Ralph visits the Cove, a bar where the town's racy crowd hangs out, and watches as Ken sits with his beautiful young girl friend, Leta Novak, fast blonde Irma jitterbugs with Scotty, and juvenile delinquent Arkie Nodecker terrorizes the bar's staff. When Ralph pushes Arkie, Ken calls Ralph over and urges him to dance with Leta, but when she questions him about his life, he reveals little. After their dance, Scotty provokes Ralph into a fistfight. Scotty's friends hold Ralph down but are interrupted when policeman Sgt. Larry Dolan enters and arrests Ralph as the troublemaker. Ralph is brought to the nearby office of Los Angeles Police Department's Lt. Newpole, who has actually sent Ralph, a rookie undercover detective, to Riverton to infiltrate Ken's car-theft gang. Although Newpole is disappointed that Ralph has caused trouble, he allows him to stay on the case. In the morning, Ralph returns to Riverton and seeks out Leta at her laundress job, but she will admit nothing, and soon Ken arrives and questions him about his dealings with the police. Back at the Cove that night, Ken introduces Ralph to another teen, Vince Pomeroy, and again pushes him to dance with Leta. Leta tells Ralph that Ken lives on a nearby farm with his mother, and is about to reveal something more when Ken interrupts in order to leave with Leta and Vince. Immediately, Irma tries to seduce Ralph, but when Scotty comes over, she claims Ralph attacked her, and Scotty punches him. This time, the fight is broken up when a boy shouts that someone tried to steal his car with a set of jumper cables. Although Ralph publicly scorns the boy for making accusations, he whispers to Scotty that he knows that he started the fight as a diversion to allow Vince to steal the car. Ralph secretly follows Scotty to Ken's farm, where he overhears Ken shouting at Vince, and sees Vince run out into the night. In the morning, Ken sneaks into Ralph's room, finds the gun hidden in the shirt drawer, and, convinced that Ralph is a punk, hires him. On his first day working in Ken's station, Ralph is approached by a desperate Vince, who reveals that he has recognized Ralph as an LAPD policeman and wants his help to get out of the gang. He asks Ralph to come to his house that night, but when Ralph arrives, he finds Vince dead in his car. Ralph, Ken, Leta, Scotty and Irma are brought before Newpole, and after Ralph urges his boss to question Leta, who seems to despise Ken, Newpole senses Ralph's interest in the girl and instructs him to befriend her to discover what she knows. One night, he drives her home and there meets her father, a slightly befuddled Polish man whom, Leta explains, was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Although she is frightened that Ken will find them, Leta finally agrees to go swimming with Ralph, and there they kiss, after which Leta implores Ralph not to get mixed up with Ken. The next day at the service station, Ken offers Ralph a "side job" over Scotty's objections, and then points his gun at Ralph's face as a warning not to spend too much time with Leta. Moments after Ken leaves, Leta invites Ralph to her house, where she reveals that when Ken discovered that her father is in the country illegally, he forced her to become his companion, tracking her down every time she ran away. Just then, Ken bursts in and drags Ralph back to his room, where Scotty and Arkie await. Ken threatens Ralph but tells him he can redeem himself by stealing a car that night outside of town. They then bring Ralph to the farm, where Ken's mother distrusts him, but leaves with Ken to inspect the car they plan to steal. Scotty and Irma show Ralph the secret area in the barn where they smuggle the stolen cars, but when Ralph sneaks out to call Newpole, Scotty follows and listens. Scotty and Ralph exchange gunfire until Scotty is fatally shot. Newpole arrives and consoles a remorseful Ralph by pointing out that he would not want anyone on the force who likes killing, and they must seek revenge by finding evidence that Ken murdered Vince. Larry then arrives to announce that Ken was tipped off and has disappeared. Ralph and Newpole visit Leta, who believes that Ralph romanced her only to get information, and she agrees to act as bait for Ken's return. Over the next week, Ralph and Larry set up surveillance, and Ralph grows impatient for Ken to show up. One night, Leta approaches Ralph, forgiving him for lying to her and wondering if her life has been ruined forever by Ken. She reveals that Ken gave her a leather case after Vince's death, and they open it to find a used gun barrel, proof that Ken used his own gun to shoot Vince. Just then, however, Ken enters and shoots Ralph in the leg, but Ralph fires back and kills him. Weeks later, Ralph is recovering in the hospital when Newpole visits and casts aspersions on Leta's honor. Ralph explodes in anger, unknowingly proving to a hiding Leta that he cares for her. When she approaches, however, and tells Newpole that she has a new job, new apartment and is in love, Ralph assumes she has a boyfriend and turns away. Leta walks off, discouraged, but after Newpole explains that she was talking about Ralph, the rookie races down the hall in his wheelchair calling her name, and Leta falls into his arms.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 11 Nov 1955|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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Movie that debuted the Barris Merc.
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