Academy Award winner Humphrey Bogart (Best Actor, The African Queen, 1951) stars as Dixon Steele, a down-on-his-luck studio scribe who reluctantly agrees to adapt a trashy bestseller to the silver screen. Rather than read the book himself, Steele convinces a star-struck hatcheck girl, Mildred Atkinson, to accompany him home and tell him the story in her own words. Later that night, Mildred is found murdered and Steele-who has a history of violent behavior-becomes the prime suspect. Fortunately for him, his sexy neighbor, Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame)-who is physically attracted to the writer-lies to the police by providing Steele with an air-tight alibi. But is he truly innocent of Mildred's death or is Laurel destined to become the next victim of Steele's violent temper?