This classic example of film noir revolves around Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a sneering, sulking, small-time American grifter with delusions of grandeur who decides to try and get rich via the world of wrestling promotion in London.
Gene Tierney plays his sweet and loyal (though she has no reason to be) nightclub singer girlfriend, Mary Bristol.
Fabian sees a way to make a power grab on local mobster Kristo (Herbert Lom) by schmoozing with his father, a legendary Greco-Roman style wrestler known as Gregorius (played by real-life Greek wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko).
Gregorius, who has with him Nikolas (Ken Richmond), a potential world champion, agrees to work with Fabian who then approaches nightclub owner Phil Nosseross (Francis L. Sullivan) to borrow £400.
Nosseross laughs at him, but his wife Helen (Googie Withers) suggests to her husband that if Fabian can produce £200 he should match it with a similar amount.
Fabian gets into some bother over the money and is forced to match Nikolas with a wrestler named The Strangler (Mike Mazurki), but it is Gregorius who turns up at the stadium to fight the bout. The old man wins but the strain on his heart is too much and he dies in Kristo’s arms.
Enraged, Kristo orders Fabian killed and passes word through the underworld that he will pay £1,000 to the person who kills him.
On the run, Fabian makes for Hammersmith where his girl Mary finds him. He tells her to go and claim the money for his death but she leaves, upset, and is comforted by her neighbour Adam Dunn (Hugh Marlowe) who has always loved her from afar.
Fabian comes out into the open and it is the Strangler who lives up to his name and throws the body of the man who wanted to be a big shot into the Thames.
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