A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.
Lawyer Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation. But his elder brother Leo is one of these small-time operators who wants to stay that way, preferring not to deal with the gangsters who dominate the big-time.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Identified by critic Thom Andersen as an example of "film gris", a suggested sub-category of film noir incorporating a left-wing narrative. See more »
When Joe reads the newspaper at the beginning of the film about the prosecutor cracking down on the numbers racket, the second paragraph of the story is about another topic entirely. See more »
Joe, you usually know what you're doing. But it's one thing to represent Tucker legally - as his lawyer, I mean. I mean, it's the business of lawyers to protect a lot of people. They even teach that at Harvard.
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All existing copies of the film are of the version that was cut by 10 minutes in order to fit into a double bill. See more »
McCarthy blacklist victim Abraham Polonsky's angry and poetic film noir is perhaps the most candidly subversive picture ever made in a commercial genre, almost explicitly equating capitalism with crime in the metaphor of the numbers racket. It belongs on the face of it to the post-war-disillusionment school of American thrillers (eg The Blue Dahlia, Key Largo), in which the evils that ordinary Joes spent the war fighting turn out to be business as usual when they get back home. But what makes it so unusual is its insistence, contrary to the message of other social-comment crime thrillers of the 1940s, that it's a bad system, rather than bad people, that's to blame for the woes of the world. The fate of Mob lawyer John Garfield's decent, kind-hearted brother Thomas Gomez, a small-time policy banker, shows us what happens to good people who try to play straight in a crooked game. If the bad guys in the film turned good, Polonsky implies, they'd only get the same. Polonsky described the source novel, Tucker's People, as "an autopsy on capitalism".
Sermon over: none of the above gets in the way of a raging, doom-laden crime melo that, like a snowball, gets faster and weightier as it barrels along. Superb New York location photography, a vitriolic script, and committed, sincere performances lock our attention to every second of its 81 New York minutes. If it weren't for Gun Crazy (scripted under a front name by another dangerous pinko, Dalton Trumbo), Force of Evil would be the best film noir ever made.
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