Respected newspaperman Haven D. Allridge (Walter Pidgeon) goes after the vicious petty Napoleon who holds a small town in his corrupt grasp. In the midst of his campaign to expose the crook, Allridge suddenly skips town. Is he a sellout, or has his crusade led him into a sinister trap? This bare-knuckle crime drama features a superb in-the-know and in-the-noir cast that includes John Hodiak, Karl Malden, Cameron Mitchell, Everett Sloane, Thomas Gomez, and as a sloe-eyed chantootsie who ends up battered and behind bars, film noir icon Audrey Totter. Like the honest newshounds and lawmen who inhabit it, The Sellout doesn't miss a thing: the film ends with a nifty courtroom-thriller sequence.
Gerald Mayer proved once more that he had talent above and beyond being the nephew of MGM-head Louis B. Mayer with his direction of The Sellout. The story begins with a bang, as big-city newspaper editor Haven Allridge (Walter Pidgeon) falls victim to the small-town tyranny of corrupt sheriff Kellwin C. Burke (Thomas Gomez). Poised to launch an investigation of Burke's underhanded activities, Allridge is suddenly intimidated into silence. Crusading state's attorney Chick Johnson (John Hodiak) discovers that Burke is keeping Allridge quiet by threatening to reveal the criminal activities of Allridge's son-in-law Randy Stanton (Cameron Mitchell). The final reels illustrate the thesis of Edmund Burke that evil will triumph so long as good men do nothing - except that this time, they do something. Though hardly a big-budget effort, The Sellout boasts an unusually strong cast, including the aforementioned actors, as well as Karl Malden and Everett Sloane. - Hal Erickson, Rovi.