Knock On Any Door is a film about circumstance and how a criminal's demeanor and way of life could very well be as much a bi-product of their environment as it is their own nature. Humphrey Bogart stars as Andrew Morton, a lawyer, who himself came from the slums of skid-row. He takes a case to defend Nick Romano, a young kid from the slums who is up for the murder of a police officer. The film chronicles this trial, while routinely going to the flashback to fill us in on the whole picture. While I can definitely agree that this is a lesser Nicholas Ray film, I still found it to be quite powerful and a great commentary on society. I guess when talking about one of the best filmmakers of all time, a lesser work is still more accomplished than most. We are shown a powerful portrait of a young man, born in the slums, whose bad-luck and poor decisions lead to this slow degradation of his morals. We see the good side of Nick and he tries to make an honest living at times, but ultimately fails to the weight of the world around him. I think the strongest aspect of this film is how it deals with the character of Nick Romano. It's a balanced dissection of the character and it never becomes heavy handed towards either argument (him being a bad person vs. him being a victim of environment). The story is solid but I did have some issues with the script in that their are stretches of dialogue which do come off as very leading and on-the-nose. In general, Knock on Any Door is a mediocre screenplay which is elevated by Nicholas Ray's directing talent.
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