Movie Review: Raw Deal

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Raw Deal is a film noir from 1948, directed by Anthony Mann who has directed a number of noir films before he moved on to Westerns.

Raw Deal has a very good plot, which incorporates many different plot devices into an hour and twenty minutes of dynamite. The main plot is a prison break but there is also a love triangle and a revenge theme thrown in for good measure.

Dennis O’Keefe is our protagonist who is in prison for taking a rap for crime boss Rick Coyle played by Raymond Burr. The film starts out with him talking in the visiting room with his legal caseworker played by Marsha Hunt. As she leaves, Claire Trevor playing our protagonist’s girlfriend is waiting to visit. We see the attraction and jealousy that will push this love triangle. A prison escape is planned with Coyle’s help, but Coyle knows his friend will never make it, at least that is his plan. When our protagonist escapes, he doesn’t have anywhere to hide out, so he goes to his caseworker’s house. Soon our love triangle goes on a road trip, trying to get away from the police and meet up with our crime boss who owes our hero $50,000. What woman will win our hero’s heart? Will he get away? Will he get his $50,000?

This is a very good little film worth watching for film noir fans. Though all three leads are well done, I have to say Raymond Burr is the stand out in this film for me. The scene where he throws a flaming liquid onto a female night club goer is one of the most vicious scenes I’ve seen in a while. Does this scene foretell his characters own fate?

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Review: Woman on the Run

As Eddie Muller said, this is the best film noir you have never seen. This film went into public domain making it easy to find and see, but the quality has been lost in the over copying. Muller himself was key in finding a few original prints and getting them edited together to make a restored version. He introduced this on the first night of TCM’s Summer of Darkness. This film was made in 1950 and directed by Norman Foster, who also helped with the screenplay, based on a story by Sylvia Tate.

This story is about an artist who witnesses a murder. It turns out the man murdered was a key witness in a case. The artist played by Ross Elliott is now the key witness and only person that can identify the murderer. He runs from the cops knowing his life is in danger. His wife played by our main star, Ann Sheridan is the police’s only lead in finding their new witness. She is crafty and out smarts the police at every turn, getting away from them in the hopes to find her husband before the police find him. Our couple has been married for four years and things are not going well. As the movie goes on she finds new things about her husband that makes her heart grow fonder of her husband. She also realizes her husband really does love her. Along the way she teams up with a journalist played by Dennis O’keefe to help find her husband. He is offering good money for an exclusive interview from her husband and seems to know the city of San Francisco. As our two are on their hunt for the missing witness we get to see a lot of this classic noir city. The hunt continues as our duo continue to try to lose the cops and beat them to her husband, but not everything is as it seems.

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This film has a grand finale at a Carnival, something I have seen in two other noir films with the first and most famous one being The Lady from Shanghai. We also see an artist getting in over his head, this is also the third time I have seen this theme, with Scarlet Street being the first and best of this idea. Yes, I would put this movie behind these other two on my list of great film noir, but this film would be on the list. I have not seen a lot of films with Ann Sheridan before, but this movie has made me a fan and I will be looking to see more of her movies. If you are a fan of Sheridan or classic film noir, this is a must see. I did see the restored version and have not seen the public domain versions, but from the sound of things, it is worth seeking out the new restored version.

Favorite Tidbit:  Eddie Muller mentioned that he thought Ann Sheridan made a conscious decision not to be objectified in this film, as she was more known for her curves then her acting up to this point. She wore a big coat in almost every scene in this film to cover her body.

Review: T-Men

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T-Men is a B-movie film noir from 1947.  It’s told in a documentary-drama style story.  This movie is directed by Anthony Mann and showcased his talent.  It is filmed in a low light, classic film noir style that looks amazing.  Mann directed a few more film noir B movies and then moved on to westerns and eventually full on Hollywood historic epics.  Even though T-Men was a fairly low-budget film it got nominated for an Academy Award for Sound.  The movie was written by John C. Higgins and Virginia Kellogg both of which wrote many crime films in their career.

Dennis O’Keefe plays our main hero and undercover T-man.  He definitely had a good presence is this role and did many B-movies including a few more film-noirs, he also did a lot of television work, including having his own show for a while.   Wallace Ford plays The Schemer and that describes the character well.  He is always looking for an angle and scheming for his next score. Ford played the most interesting character in the film, in my opinion.  Alfred Ryder plays O’Keefe’s undercover partner and comes across as an average every-man that may be in over his head.

I could not find anything about the story behind this movie.  It plays as a true case from the Secret Service, but I can not find if it really is.  Anybody out there shed some light on this?  If these bad guys were real, they where both incredibly brutal and smart.

This story is about two T-men or I.R.S. Agents sent undercover to break up a counterfeit ring.  The ring seems to be based in Los Angles, but anytime anybody gets close to the root of the group it leads to a dead-end.  They trace some counterfeit stamps in Detroit that are from the same group.  Are hero’s are sent to Detroit to infiltrate the ring from there.  This is where are adventure takes off.

This movie isn’t the most interesting story or have many twists and turns to it, but if it is a true story that would make sense.  I would not put this noir in my top ten, but it is worth viewing for hardcore film noir fans.

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