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Force of Evil (1948)

TV-PG  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Drama  |  25 December 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 3,952 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 45 critic

An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.



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Complete credited cast:
Edna Tucker
Howland Chamberlain ...
Freddie Bauer (as Howland Chamberlin)
Ben Tucker
Bill Ficco
Stanley Prager ...
Barry Kelley ...
Det. Egan
Paul McVey ...
Hobe Wheelock
Beatrice Pearson ...
Doris Lowry


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Film-Noir | Drama


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 December 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tucker's People  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In order to show cinematographer George Barnes how he wanted the film to look, Abraham Polonsky gave him a book of Edward Hopper's Third Avenue paintings. See more »


During a climactic montage set at an East Coast racetrack on the Fourth of July, people in the stock footage crowd scenes are dressed in winter garments nobody would wear in the middle of summer. See more »


[last lines - voice over]
Joe Morse: I found my brother's body at the bottom there, where they had thrown it away on the rocks... by the river... like an old dirty rag nobody wants. He was dead - and I felt I had killed him. I turned back to give myself up to Hall; because if a man's life can be lived so long and come out this way - like rubbish - then something was horrible and had to be ended one way or another... and I decided to help.
See more »


Featured in American Cinema: Film Noir (1995) See more »


String Quartet opus 131, no. 14: Ist Movement
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

beyond film noir...a classic and pessimistic view of humannature
2 August 2000 | by (rockford,il) – See all my reviews

Superficially, "Force of Evil" can be considered a film noir and gangster movie. But it is so much deeper than that. The very bleak message I got from the film is that even decent people must submit to corruption to survive.

The character of Leo, superbly played by Thomas Gomez, is inherently honest and noble but he must live and work in the naturally shady numbers racket. He knows that he will be eventually crushed. This knowledge makes Leo one of the most bitter and tragic characters in film...a decent man whose life is dominated by futility.

The protagonist of the film, portrayed by John Garfield, is Leo's brother. He has ridden his job as a sleazy mob lawyer to a life of fame and ease. He has everything Leo doesn't. Yet despite his blustery banter, he,too,is uneasy with his position. He knows Leo is headed for disaster and pulls all the strings he can to protect him, even though Leo reacts to him with contempt. Their relationship is doomed by the corrupt methods both use to survive. Garfield's character finds redemption of a sort by the film's end but not before inevitable tragedy has struck.

There are many more levels to this complex film and discussion of them all could fill many pages. Above all, it is a beautiful movie,expertly directed with tremendous black and white imagery. The dialogue combines snappy patter with almost poetic sensibility. And the performances of all concerned are top notch. This is truly a treasure of cinematic art. Be prepared to think deeply when you watch it

31 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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