The bait-and-switch of the film's opening sequence is truly great storytelling: we follow a presumed maniac escape from a sanitorium on a stormy night (strangling the guard, stealing the keys, getting out of his prison-like cell, jumping the fences, etc. etc.) and easily he could be the protagonist of the film, even though he hasn't uttered a word of dialogue. When he finally talks (hiding from his pursuers in a hotel room and threatening an innocuous stranger at gunpoint), he speaks with a vaguely European accent. Off-screen (in the other room), he is suddenly stabbed and killed. The man we have been following for almost fifteen minutes is not the hero of the story, and this stranger in the hotel room (an all-American kind of guy who happens to be visited by the madman-escaped) steps in and has to become the film's protagonist and assumes all the responsibilities of this mysterious "maniac" of the first 15 min.