Five great stars in a daring drama of love and adventure! Well that tag line does sum up this film with an amazing cast. We have Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Vincent Price, Charles Laughton and John Hodiak in a film noir from 1949 directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The Bribe is based on a short story by Frederick Nebel and maybe the film should have been a bit shorter also.
This story starts with Robert Taylor’s character sent to a Central America to find out who is selling plane engines on the black market. He is told who his suspects are and he must find who is behind the illegal sales. The main suspect is Ava Gardner’s husband played by John Hodiak. To get closer to Hodiak it makes sense to get close to Gardner. Then of course Taylor falls for Gardner and Gardner soon starts to feel something for Taylor. Vincent Price plays a wealthy fisherman that Taylor also starts to suspect. Laughton plays the ruffled and uncomfortable odd ball that always seems to be around the motel, another suspect for Taylor. The plot twists and turns as Taylor don’t know who to believe or trust as alliances change throughout the film. Can he trust Gardner or is she a femme fatale? Will Taylor find who is selling the plane engines?
This film is 98 minutes long and drags a bit in the middle. I think this would have been a lot better film if it was edited down a few minutes to keep the tension high. I do have to say the film is worth watching for the last scene, it is pretty incredible. I also enjoy Gardner, Laughton, and Price, who have a presence that is always entertaining.
This is worth watching if you are a big fan of any of the 5 stars, but I think this cast was wasted in this film. It just seems to be missing something. It is still an entertaining film if you are a film noir fan.