This is a "live" episode from the long running anthology series, "WESTINGHOUSE: STUDIO ONE". This series ran for 467 episodes between 1948 and 1958. This episode is the 13th of the production run.
Being an early bit of television, it is a bit rough about the edges in terms of image qualiy. And since the runtime had to be compressed to fit into an hour (with commercials) there is the odd shortcut. The fact that it is also a live production means there is the odd line mix-up--and even a cameraman getting in the way of a shot, etc. (This does not take away from the tension in the least: I quite like these early efforts.)
This teleplay is based on the Dashiell Hammett novel, which had been made into feature films twice previously (1935 and 1942). George Raft headlined the first screen version, with Alan Ladd taking the lead role in the second.
The story revolves around a big city political boss, his number one man, a pretty blonde, her father and various other sorts all involved in murder.
Using the 1942 version as a template, we have Donald Briggs playing the Ladd part, Jean Carson doing Veronica Lake, Lawrence Fletcher in the Brian Donlevy role, Les Damon playing the character handled previously by Joseph Calleia--and Bern Hoffman taking on William Bendix's turn as the bullying thug.
Briggs is the right hand man for racket man and political boss (Fletcher). Briggs is not happy with Fletcher getting involved with a local political race. He tells him that it is all hot potatoes because Fletcher is going against the reform ticket. Fletcher though is blind to the danger because he has the hots for the daughter (Carson) of another candidate (Edwin Jerome). Jerome is also the father of the reform man.
Also in the mix is one of Fletcher's rivals in the gambling rackets (Les Damon). Briggs cautions Fletcher that the last thing they need is a violent dispute with Damon. There is a heated argument between Fletcher and Briggs with the latter quitting.
Next thing you know, Briggs is approached by Damon to join his crew. At the same time the reformer turns up dead as a doornail. Naturally, thi adds fuel to the fire. The main suspect starts to look like Fletcher. Now Carson puts the bite on Briggs. She is sure Fletcher is guilty of her brother's murder and wants his help in proving it.
While Briggs may have had a falling out with Fletcher, he is also not going to help anyone get him. This soon leads to Briggs being subjected to a first-rate curb stomping by Damon'a henchman (Hoffman). The rest of the teleplay is more or less a rehash of the film, with the real killer ultimately being turned up.
Don Briggs' career spanned 40 years between 1936 and 1976, though he was off screen for nearly a decade after 1940, returning to television in 1949 with this performance. Jean Carson seemed to pop up on 50's television series all the time. She made a career out of playing "the other woman" types.