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...
Not to be confused with Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning.
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.
- Christianity is Catholic: Played with twice.
- Subverted at the beginning of the film. Murdock is Seeking Sanctuary in a Catholic church, where he runs into a priest who happens to have a military background similar to his own and decides to tell him his story. It quickly comes out that Murdock isn't Catholic; he pretty much just entered the church because it was there.
- Near the end of the film, Murdock is badly injured and loses consciousness. The next shot is a subjective shot which includes a priest giving last rites in Latin. The viewer might reasonably suppose that Murdock has been mistaken for Catholic In-Universe (possibly because of being seen in the church earlier), but actually, Murdock is waking up in the next room over. Mrs. Chandler is the person getting last rites.
- City Noir: "Gulf City", where most of the action takes place, is rather typical of the genre.
- Contrived Coincidence: Murdock has been in Gulf City for two days, and has not heard from Johnny or found anything out about where he might be. He turns in for the night in his hotel room, and turns off the radio—except somehow, he accidentally flips the radio to the police scanner band. The police scanner band then immediately broadcasts an alert about a fatal car wreck on the night Johnny was supposed to call back, giving Murdock a lead.
- 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.
- Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: McGee the safecracker does this when getting down to business with Murdock, as they discuss breaking into Martinelli's safe.
- Feet-First Introduction: Mrs. Chandler is first introduced with a camera shot of her lovely calf and feet in high-heeled shoes.
- Femme Fatale: Comes with the genre, here in the pleasant form of Coral "Dusty" Chandler
- Frameup: Twice, with the same body. Murdock wakes up to find the corpse of Louis the bartender in his hotel room. He just barely has enough time to dump the body in the hotel's laundry room before the cops show up. Then he retrieves the body and takes it to Martinelli's place, distracting Martinelli long enough for Murdock to get into his office.
- Framing Device: Murdock, running from both the cops and the bad guys, dives into a church. Wanting someone to know what happened, he tells the whole story to a Catholic priest. The framing device catches up to the main narrative a little more than 2/3 of the way through the film.
- Hey, Wait!: When Murdock tells Coral that Louis' body is in the trunk of her car (see Frameup above), she ends up speeding, and a motorcycle cop pulls them over. Murdock manages to talk the cop out of brining both of them into the station (since Coral doesn't have her license) by pretending they were speeding because he had proposed to her, and they were going to city hall to get married. The motorcycle cop lets them go, but as they're about to drive off, the cop yells out, "Hey, wait a minute!" Coral and Murdock turn around...and the cop just wants to know what Coral said in response to the proposal, to which Coral smiles and claims she said yes.
- Male Gaze: Very overt with the introduction of Mrs. Chandler. The camera first introduces her with a shot of her legs and feet, one bare calf sticking out from a slit in her skirt. The camera then pans up to show her torso, with a slit in the front of her dress that goes halfway down her stomach. Finally, the camera then pans up to show her face.
- Private Eye Monologue: Provided by Murdock, though technically, he isn't a P.I. Justified, since Bogart is telling the Story to somebody else.
- Seeking Sanctuary: Hinted at: the film begins with Murdock, who is fleeing from police, ducking into a Catholic church.
- Slipping a Mickey: Murdock knocks back a drugged drink mid-conversation and is out like a light within a few sentences. An interestingly cruel example, as he knows the drink is adulterated and, lacking any opportunity for a Discreet Drink Disposal, chooses to drink it anyway to avoid endangering the person who tipped him off.
- Tap on the Head: When Murdock sneaks into Martinelli's house to find the letter Johnny left him, he's trying to decode the letter when someone hits him on the back of the head with a blackjack.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Johnny, justified since it's his murder that sets the story in motion.