“Christmas Eve in New York is a happy time for some people, the lucky ones. Last minute shopping, presents for the kids, hurry home to light the tree and fill the stocking – for the lucky ones. Others aren’t so lucky.”
Poor Nick Bianco (Victor Mature) has to resort to armed robbery to get his Christmas shopping done. Unfortunately, the police aren’t quite as understanding as the narrator, and while Nick is paying his debt to society, his wife kills herself, enabling him to switch to a younger model, when he gets out, after making a deal with the District Attorney (known to science fiction fans as Professor Quatermass).
Not only does he snitch on his friends, he sets one of them up as the snitch, thereby sealing his fate. And Nick’s the hero!
Unfortunately, his main victim (Richard Widmark) isn’t very nice either, in spite of having a contagious laughter being prone to pushing old mothers in wheelchairs down stairs, so it’s a bit hard to find someone to root for. It must be admitted, however, that scene for scene it’s extremely well-made.