Captain Warren "Rip" Murdock (Bogart) and Sgt. Johnny Drake (William Prince) return from Europe after being wounded in World War II and are being ordered to travel to Washington D.C. When Drake learns that he will be awarded with the Medal of Honor, he runs off to Gulf City. Murdock follows him to learn why Drake disappeared, only to find that Drake died in a car accident. Not believing in an accident, Murdock investigates Drake's past...
The Film contains examples of:
- Big Bad: Martinelli.
- Call-Back: Murdock's justification for turning in Chandler is almost exactly the same as Spade's justification for turning in Brigid O'Shaugnessy, including the idea that, because they have something on the women, neither hero can be sure that they aren't in danger of death.
- City Noir: "Gulf City", where most of the action takes place, is rather typical of the genre.
- Deadpan Snarker: Murdock; it's a given when he's played by Humphrey Bogart.
- The Dragon: Krause, to Martinelli.
- Dumb Muscle: Krause, at least according to Martinelli.
- Femme Fatale: Comes with the Genre, here in the pleasant form of Coral "Dusty" Chandler
- Frameup: Twice, with the same body.
- Private Eye Monologue: Provided by Murdock, though technically, he isn't a P.I. Justified, since Bogart is telling the Story to somebody else.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Johnny, justified since it's his murder that sets the story in motion.