Where The Sidewalk Ends Film Analysis

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Film noir is a style of filmmaking that began after World War 2, and it focused on darker themes and settings. Most commonly, this style of film is set in a city with rampant crime and corruption, with the characters and protagonist being morally ambiguous. Where the sidewalk ends was created in this style with its stylistic choices and its focus on settings with police corruption, an anti-hero protagonist, and a femme fatale.

The film Where the Sidewalk Ends directed by Otto Preminger is a film noir that was praised for its even grittier take on this style of filmmaking. In this film the protagonist (Detective Dixon) kills Ken Paine in self defense while interrogating him due to his expected involvement in an earlier murder. Dixon drops Ken’s
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This shows that he is an extremely flawed character as he is being dishonest and destructive to those around him. In terms of film noir, this flaw both drives the plot of the film and portrays him as an antihero. This is a commonality between most films in this style as they often present a darker view on the world.

A second element that this film uses is a femme fatale who tempts the hero away from their goals and eventually helps to cause their downfall. The femme fatale in this film is Morgan Taylor, as she was unwillingly involved in the first murder, as well as causing Dixon to try to deflect blame off her father when this had a chance to expose him. However, Morgan is a variant on this archetype as she generally is unaware of the effect she has on others.

Near the beginning of the film Morgan is watching a gambling game. She wants to leave, however one of the men there tries to force her to stay so that another person will stay and lose more money. She leaves anyway, and this angers two of the men until one of them snaps and kills the other. In this example, Morgan acts as the unwilling subject of the argument between the two men. Though she is not tempting the protagonist in this case, she still demonstrates some of the qualities of a film noir femme fatale in this scene, resulting in someone’s death partially because of her
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