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One of the best of the film noir movies was "Nocturne" directed by
Edwin L. Marin starring George Raft. The two teamed once more in an
attempt to recreate the magic of that movie. Though the result "Race
Street" doesn't have the compactness nor the intricate story lines of
"Nocturne," it is worthwhile film noir. George Raft while not a great
actor had an aura about him that gave authenticity to roles such as
that of Dan Gannin. William Bendix, perhaps the most underrated actor
Hollywood ever produced with the possible exception of Bob Mitchum,
steals the show as always. Marilyn Maxwell makes a dandy femme fatale
and the rest of the cast do their part to make this one a winner.
The cinematography of the San Francisco area is crisp black and white at its best. Who ever designed the stairs that Harry Morgan is thrown down to his death deserves special recognition. Later George Raft is beat up on the same stairs. They appear menacing with the cold drab look of death about them.
The music is appropriate and the songs well chosen to capture the necessary mood of the piece. Even the title is a good one. "Race Street" may indicate horses since the film is about double dealing bookies but it is also a metaphor for the story.
Noted San Francisco bookie and club owner George Raft is being muscled
by the syndicate. He shrugs it off until pal Harry Morgan is thrown
down a flight of stairs and killed. After that Raft is hot for revenge.
Though this film was produced by RKO it has a Paramount look to it because of the presence of William Bendix as a police lieutenant and Frank Faylen as the syndicate's man in San Francisco.
Raft gets a lot of good advice from Bendix in the film, most of which he ignores. Raft also has some very treacherous associates as the viewer will find out.
George Raft films are always art imitating life when they are about gangsters. Except for horror film stars like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, I doubt there was ever a major star whose own life so closely got involved in the roles he played.
Raft was hardly a great actor, but in gangster films he knew the mob literally from the inside out so it was never acting.
Bill Bendix of course is always good, films with him in it should be seen if for no other reason than to watch him.
Race Street is an average noir film which I'm sure entertained the audiences who came to see whatever A picture was playing with it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George Raft was a much better actor than people (and himself) gave him
credit for. The fact that 20 years after his first film he was still
making good movies is a credit to his durability and star power.
This is a pretty good crime movie with many twists. Raft plays Dan Gannin, a bookie, who with the love of his girl "Robbie" (Marilyn Maxwell) wants to leave the race track racket for good. There is a protection racket starting to operate. Dan has told them he is not interested and being friends with Barney (William Bendix), a detective, helps to keep them at bay. His childhood friend Hal (a young Harry Morgan) is not so lucky - he is killed by some thugs who throw him down stairs.
That is all Dan needs to flush the rats out. It leads him after a few twists and turns to Robbie's brutish husband Phil Dixon, who is very much alive and well (she had told Dan that he had been killed in the war). Frank Faylen plays Dixon. He was in so many films in the 40s, often playing vile characters but always memorable in a "Say, wasn't he the guy"!! way. Playing a harassed father in the TV series "Dobie Gillis" finally made him a household name.
The deceiving Robbie was played by former singer Marilyn Maxwell, She was blonde (although a beautiful brunette in this film) pretty and curvaceous but just couldn't break through the ranks into stardom. Gale Robbins played Dan's sister Elaine but the role was just an excuse to let her sing a couple of songs - which she did very well. Charles Lane plays a sly hotel clerk. See it for the co-stars alone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
RACE STREET 1948
This is the last of a half dozen films done by George Raft and director Edwin L. Marin. In this one Raft is a San Fransisco bookie on the verge of quitting the racket. He has just opened a night club and is in love with a hot looking dame, Marylyn Maxwell.
The plan comes crashing down when childhood friend, Harry Morgan is murdered. A group of thugs are offering "accident protection" to the local bookie crowd. Morgan refuses to cough up and he goes for a long tumble down a flight of stairs.
In the mix now is another of Raft's childhood buddies, William Bendix. Bendix is however a San Francisco Police Detective. Bendix knows all about the heavy boys leaning on the bookies and wants help from Raft. Raft refuses to help as he intends to settle the score his own way.
Raft however is not as bright as he thinks. The racket boys take him for a ride and tell him it is his turn to "join" the protection scheme. He asks for time to think the matter over. By all means, the mob tells Raft as they give him a right curb stomping. Bendix finds Raft recovering from his "friendly talk" in a hospital ward. Raft still will not help Bendix with any info.
Needless to say the story continues with Raft seeking payback. A nice turn here is dolly Maxwell ending up to be not quite, the loving girlfriend. She is quite sharp looking in a non-blonde role. There are a couple of twists and turns in the film but nothing really wild.
Director Marin and Raft both did better work on their earlier films, the under-rated NOCTURNE and JOHNNY ANGEL. Some nice cinematography though is featured throughout this one from, Roy J. Hunt. Hunt's work includes, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, TRAIL STREET, THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE, CROSSFIRE, RETURN OF THE BADMEN, KILL OR BE KILLED and THE LAWLESS.
Worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Interesting Bill Bendix and George Raft film filled with back-stabbing
galore. With Bendix as the cop and Raft as a bookie, threatened by a
protection racket, we have a taut story here.
Marilyn Maxwell is Raft's new love interest who is lying through her teeth. She sports a black wig here, but Bendix recognizes her for what she is.
Interesting to see Raft in a role trying to go straight.
This is basically the story of friendship and betrayal as told by the Bendix character. When their friend, played by Henry Morgan, is killed for not playing ball with the racketeers, Bendix and Raft step in to avenge his murder, but in different ways.
The film would have been better had it been longer. The Maxwell character, the stinker that she was, could have been stretched to show how evil she really was.
You know this is a different film for George Raft as he is not throwing that coin up and down in the manner that only he could do.
George Raft is said to have turned down more than one role that ended
up making someone else's career. Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon," for
example. Yet the movies he did choose are for the most part flat and
I like him as a tough guy. He does it well. "Race Street" is strictly routine. He won't pay protection money, with predictable results.
Harry Morgan is excellent in a fairly small role. William Bendix, who always turned in a fine performance, is very good as a cop. And Marilyn Maxwell is the femme fatale.
She's OK. But her performance is unexciting. We neither hate her nor feel sorry for her. Maxwell essentially executes a plot contrivance.
George Raft plays Gannin, a bookie who is, despite this, basically an
honest guy. His pal, Hal (Harry Morgan) approaches him to say that some
mobsters want in on his own bookmaking business. Well, these creeps
turn out to mean business and when Hal refuses to cooperate, they
murder him in a very vivid and brutal scene (one of the best in the
film). Naturally, Gannin isn't happy but things are about to get rough
for him as well, as the mobsters soon approach him as well. Now he
could work with the detective (William Bendix) to expose these rats
but, naturally, Gannin only likes to handle things alone. Does he
possibly stand a chance?! Well, since it's George Raft, you certainly
This film turned out to be a lot better than I expected. No, George Raft was just as stiff and unbelievable as he usually was in films. However, the plot offered some nice twists and kept me guessing. Plus the ending came as a HUGE surprise to me! Well worth seeing...almost deserving an 8...but not quite making it due to Raft's very ordinary sort of performance.
Ironically, later Harry Morgan would play Bill Gannon on "Dragnet"...the show that helped make him a household name.
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