Great post-war Noir that transitions b/w gangster individualism and syndicate films. It's a sort of Horatio Alger success story, told largely in flashback by O'Brien as he climbs the ladder of organized crime. This is done through technical innovation, conning the cons, stepping on the small operators in the numbers racket, and sheer cutthroat guile. Otto Kruger turns in an amazing performance as a made man, well above soiling his hands with petty details but wise to the tactics of both his criminal rivals and the police.
Despite the inevitable comeuppance of the conclusion, the point is made beforehand that criminality at Kruger's level is beyond the current reach of the law. So, there is the fated individual combined with a sense of futility in the face of a rigged system. Not unique themes, but told here in a nicely alternating combination and with great economy. Plus, 1950 LA locations are featured to outstanding effect.