Marie Windsor

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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THE SNIPER (1952)

The Sniper

Now here’s an interesting caper: Edward Dmytryk’s The Sniper. This dark tale of male rage was a product of the later noir cycle, when the root problems of violence began to be examined on a psychological level. It’s about a veteran whose mother didn’t love him and who now desires women on a violent level. The film was pulled from release prematurely due to its graphic violence (which even stunned a hardened film viewer like me in 2014), and sort of faded into obscurity after that. It’s a shame it’s not more well known, since it’s an obvious precursor to films like Dirty Harry and Taxi Driver.

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