William Bowers (Cry Danger) screenplay was based on a play by Leonard Kantor titled Dead Pigeon which had a brief run of 21 performances on Broadway over the Christmas holiday of 1953-1954. The three person drama set in a single hotel room featured Joan Lorring (The Corn is Green) as a potential trial witness with Lloyd Bridges (The Sound of Fury) and James Gregory (The Manchurian Candidate) as her police detective guards.
The Samuel French synopsis reads: "Two detectives bring a young lady from the penitentiary to a secluded seaside hotel and hold her in protective custody before her appearance at a murder trial. Actually, the girl knows nothing about the murder of a gangster but has turned state's witness in order to get a day's vacation from prison. But the underworld does not know this: nor do the detectives who are in league with the underworld and who are ordered to kill the girl. But the younger of the men has a heart and a bit of a conscience left. He upsets things when he falls in love with the girl. The menace that night comes from the other detective who is undeterred in his mission of murder."
Brian Keith was breaking out of the uncredited portion of his career with a number of fine and tough-minded characters during this period, mostly at Columbia. See The Violent Men, 5 Against the House, and Nightfall. Ruggedly handsome and adept at his craft, Vince Striker is a character that gives the actor a myriad of emotions to convey and some nice action sequences.
Prosecutor Lloyd Hallett played by Edward G. Robinson is in a tight spot. The mob has all the power and the means of getting information that should be secret. The mob is powerful and committed. Killing isn't an option they use occasionally; they are brazen with the tactic. The deportation isn't what Hallett has spent years building up a case for, but the time is now and he needs this witness.
Edward G. Robinson channels a bit of Barton Keyes from Double Indemnity as he deals with his resistant witness and the leak in his department. Particularly satisfying is a scene with the mobster's lawyer where Hallett holds nothing back in his feelings about the criminal.
The play is opened up from the hotel room to give the audience views of the penitentiary, city streets, and the intrusion of television. The prison shows us Sherry's present circumstances, how she has adapted, and why she would like a break. The city streets bring us shop windows, people, and sudden violence. The television intrudes with an insipid telethon with a mediocre entertainer to contrast the life and death stakes facing our characters.
I find Tight Spot an engrossing and fascinating crime drama with an outstanding cast and taut direction. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. If, like me, you saw it eons ago, surprise yourself with a revisit to the Noirvember Hotel.