Dead Reckoning is proof that not every film noir with Humphrey Bogart is a classic. While Bogart is great as always, the rest of the cast is weak, and the plot is convoluted, hard to follow and does not always make sense.
Capt. Rip Murdock (Bogart) is accompanying his friend Sgt Johnny Drake back to Washington DC at the end of WWII. Along the way, Drake is surprised with the news that he is being taken to DC to get the Congressional Medal of Honor. Rather than being happ, he is very angry. He jumps on a different train to escape. Murdock can not understand Drake's behavior and sets out to track him down. Murdock discovers Drake is wanted for murder, and joined the army under a fake name to escape.
Allegedly, Drake murdered a Mr Chandler because he was in love with his wife, Mrs Coral "Dusty" Chandler. Murdock follows the trail to Drake's home town, where he learns Drake died in a fiery car crash. He meets Dusty Chandler, as well as small time mobster Martinelli, who owns the nightclub where Dusty sang.
In the end, it turns out that Martinelly and Dusty Chandler are married. Mr. Chandler was an old rich man who they thought was going to die soon. Dusty married him for his money. After the wedding they discovered Mr Chandler was in excellent health and could live many more years. Not wanting to wait to get the money, Martinelli decided to kill Mr Chandler. He took advantage of a chance argument between Mr Chandler and Drake in the nightclub to murder Mr Chandler that night and pin it on Drake. In a stroke of luck for Martinelli, Drake thought Dusty killed her husband, and Drake agreed to take the rap to protect Dusty. When Drake returned to town after jumping trains, Martinelli feared that the truth would come out. He ordered his thug Krauss to scare Drake out of town. Krauss is a 2nd rate thug (played appropriately by a 2nd rate actor) so Drake ended up dead instead.
Now, Dusty wants to be free of Martinelli. Murdock is falling for her. She sets Murdock up to think he and her are going to run off together. Really she wants Murdock to kill Martinelli for her, and takes Murdock to Martinelli's office.
However, instead of killing Martinelli, Murdock brings him out at gunpoint. Dusty kills Martinelli in the doorway. Murdock and Dusty drive off. Murdock realizes that he smelled Dusty's distinct jasmine perfume in Martinelli's office so that she had been there, and realizes that Dusty expected him to come out the door and meant to shoot him. She pulls a gun on him, and he crashes the car before she can shoot him. They end up in the hospital after their car crashes, and Murdock explains it all to the police.
Thanks Joseph C!