The story is straightforward and piques your interest right from the start. Gunther Wyckoff (played very convincingly by Marshall Thompson) is a troubled young man who escapes from a mental asylum in order to track down and seek revenge on the doctor (Levene) responsible for his being locked up. He manages to board a bus for Terminal City but begins to attract some unwanted attention due to his odd behavior.
When the police broadcast a television bulletin about the killing of the bus driver and a description of the killer, the bartender who was the only one to notice the broadcast unsuccessfully tries to call the police, and the psycho ends up locking the door and holding everyone in the bar hostage. For the remainder of the film the bar patrons try to reason with the killer. And the police outside try to negotiate for the hostage's release.
There are quite a few exchanges between Dr. Farnum and police captain Kiever (Richard Rober) mostly because the captain believes that Wyckoff should have received the death penalty for a previous murder instead of of being institutionalized. Dr. Farnum finds he must make a tough choice -- keep his distance as ordered by the police chief and let the cops continue to negotiate with the killer, or sacrifice himself and face the the killer in an attempt to free hostages.
I enjoyed the portrayal of the broadcasting company's (WKYL?) attempt to cover the story for one of the newest media inventions of the time - the television. Even the bar has a large flatscreen television ("fourteen-hundred bucks installed, push-button picture control, reflected image, 3x4 foot screen"). That "fourteen-hundred bucks" would probably equal about ten thousand dollars today.
This is a pretty good noir film with an interesting twist at the end. Great cinematography by Paul Vogel keeps all the visuals crystal clear while still preserving the dark foreboding noir world that so many us of have come to love.