Nicholas Ray's masterpiece works on multiple levels. Watch it for its melodramatic thrills. Then read about all of the production drama that took place to appreciate how it affected the acting. But, on either screening don't overlook the sexual sub-text and political allegory.
A few years before director Don Siegel did his classic take on Hemingway's The Killers which followed two hit men on a contract hit he did this movie with a similar plot. Robert Keith and Eli Wallach really aren't hit men in The Lineup. They are a hired collection men tracking down drugs unknowingly transported into America by innocent citizens. Siegel's direction, even with the low budget constraints, is impressive and Wallach's interpretation of a psychopath is worthy of him getting star billing even though he's in the movie for half of its running time.
While the film's historical value and analysis of racism makes this a must-watch for lovers of art there's no question the film suffers from poor acting and audio dubbing. The acclaimed author of the source material plays the lead role and he's incapable of doing justice to his masterpiece. At the very least, his character should have been re-written to reflect his age. There's a 20+ year age difference. So, you have a 40 year old man saying words written for a teen.