Fritz Lang's second Hollywood film was this effective psychological crime drama about an ex-con, just released from prison and newly married to his sweetheart who finds his past coming back to haunt him. Lang offers a trenchant social commentary on the justice system, focusing on the societal prejudice against Fonda's criminal past and the corrosive effect it has on him.
Shot with characteristic stylishness by Lang, with atmospheric high-contrast cinematography by Leon Shamroy. Sylvia Sidney is highly effective as the loyal and courageous Joan, and Henry Fonda plays his part with an intensity that brings real humanity to the character which makes all the more tragic his desperation as his life hangs in the balance in the face overwhelming evidence against him. It's also a genuine and sincere love story about real commitment and dedication between two people in the face of trouble, done without the usual cheap and false sentimentality.