Sterling Hayden's character is an outwardly-hardened but human farmer that tries to return to his farm that his family lost some years ago. But also the other figures are quite interesting: the corrupt lawyer who plays cards with his sick wife and keeps an expensive blonde somewhere. Although not perfectly balanced, at some points the guilt he felt in front of his unsuspecting wife were tangible.
Also the commissioner and the detective were not without flaws, even small roles had interesting little scenes. Should re-read the script.