Nick and his partner Al stage a payroll holdup. Al is shot and Nick kills a policeman. Nick hides out at a public pool, where he meets Peg Dobbs. They go back to her apartment and he forces her family to hide him from the police manhunt.
A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.
Lawyer Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation. But his elder brother Leo is one of these small-time operators who wants to stay that way, preferring not to deal with the gangsters who dominate the big-time. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »
When Joe's office is broken into, the cover to the safe is left open. When Joe goes into his office, the cover is closed. See more »
The money I made in this rotten business is no good for me, Joe. I don't want it back. And Tucker's money is no good either.
The money has no moral opinions.
I find I have, Joe. I find I have.
See more »
McCarthy blacklist victim Abraham Polonsky's angry and poetic film noir is perhaps the most candidly subversive picture ever made in a commercial genre, almost explicitly equating capitalism with crime in the metaphor of the numbers racket. It belongs on the face of it to the post-war-disillusionment school of American thrillers (eg The Blue Dahlia, Key Largo), in which the evils that ordinary Joes spent the war fighting turn out to be business as usual when they get back home. But what makes it so unusual is its insistence, contrary to the message of other social-comment crime thrillers of the 1940s, that it's a bad system, rather than bad people, that's to blame for the woes of the world. The fate of Mob lawyer John Garfield's decent, kind-hearted brother Thomas Gomez, a small-time policy banker, shows us what happens to good people who try to play straight in a crooked game. If the bad guys in the film turned good, Polonsky implies, they'd only get the same. Polonsky described the source novel, Tucker's People, as "an autopsy on capitalism".
Sermon over: none of the above gets in the way of a raging, doom-laden crime melo that, like a snowball, gets faster and weightier as it barrels along. Superb New York location photography, a vitriolic script, and committed, sincere performances lock our attention to every second of its 81 New York minutes. If it weren't for Gun Crazy (scripted under a front name by another dangerous pinko, Dalton Trumbo), Force of Evil would be the best film noir ever made.
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