Thursday, August 05, 2004

a man could spend the rest of his life trying to remember what he shouldn't have said

That line echoes the sentiment running through Abraham Polonsky's noir (in the Paul Schrader sense) classic Force of Evil. This was Polonsky's first film as director, and he was, shortly afterwards, blacklisted for refusing to "name names" for the HUAC. John Garfield plays Joe Morse, an ambitious young lawyer, who wants to get ahead in life, and fast. He has a plan that will allow his client, the gangster Ben Tucker, to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation. He is torn by his feelings for and against his elder brother Leo, a small-time operator himself, who refuses to deal with the gangsters. The inevitable noir falling is aided by David Raksin's score, excellent Edward Hopper visuals, biting dialogue, and a general sense of urgency that made films like this classics.

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