Humphrey Bogart stars as Dixon Steele, a screenwriter who is faced with the odious task of scripting a trashy best-seller. He enlists hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson to tell him the story in her own words. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect; his record of belligerence when angry and his macabre sense of humour implicate him. Fortunately, lovely neighbour Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) gives him an alibi. Laurel proves to be just what Steele needed. and their friendship ripens into love. m Will suspicion, doubt, and Steele's inner demons come between them?