Max Thursday (Zachary Scott) is a divorced ex-cop who spends his time drinking in a rundown boarding house. But he is galvanized to action - sort of -- when his ex-wife, Georgia (Faye Emerson), comes to tell him that their little boy has been kidnapped. Max goes to see Dr. Elder (Jed Prouty of the Jones Family movies), who may have some information, but the man winds up murdered. And there are other complications. Frankly, Guilty Bystander is a bit confusing as we follow Max's convoluted path from person to person, although there are some interesting characters and actors along the way: Mary Boland has a very different role to play than usual as the tough, tippling landlady, but she does it well. Sam Levene is Max's former boss on the force, Captain Tonetti, and perhaps the biggest surprise is a young Kay Medford as a sexy moll with whom Max dallies in his quest for answers. Scott [The Unfaithful] gives a very good performance, with Boland, Prouty and Medford [Two Tickets to Paris] not far behind him, but the movie is very minor film noir, although there are a couple of surprises before the conclusion.
Verdict: Perhaps too murky for its own good. **1/2.