Beatrice Peterson

FORCE OF EVIL (1948)

Force of Evil 1948

Dammit, Joe. What have you done? Like Dorris said, you’re an evil man. “Evil,” huh. That’s not a word someone throws around too easily, ‘cept when they’re talking about some crooked ass politician or a villain in a comic book. But you, Joe Morse, you’re just a lawyer with his hands in a few pockets. Does that make you evil? Maybe, Joe. Maybe.

Filmmaker Abraham Polonsky first worked with actor John Garfield (The Postman Always Rings Twice) on the boxing film Body and Soul. For his directorial debut (and only film for over 20 years), Polonsky adapted Ira Wolfert’s novel Tucker’s People – a strongly researched journalistic tale of the illegal numbers racket. In the hands of Polonsky, Force of Evil transcended the novel’s concentration on this one crime and instead held up a mirror to the entire system. Unlike most film noirs that chart the corruption and demise of one man, Force of Evil broadly looks at the destruction of an entire organization, and the cops and politicians that surround it – making it a wholly significant American film and a major film noir.

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