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Righteous district attorney Joseph Foster's main goal in life is to rid his city of the gangsters infesting it. In order to be even more efficient in his war against crime he plans to run for governor. One day he meets a strange, shadowy man, Nick Beal, who offers to help him to achieve his end. Beal convinces hesitating Foster by dint of easy money, easy sex with an alluring young woman and the promise of easy success. Joseph Foster soon becomes an influential politician but a corrupt one. A minister of God manages to show him that he has been the plaything of the so-called Nick Beal, who might be "Old Nick" , that is to say Satan himself. Foster then decides to resign and to become an honest man again. Written by
Thomas Mitchell (Foster) wants to run for Governor and rid the town of corruption, but corrupt Fred Clark (Faulkner) stands in his way. Enter Ray Milland (Nick Beal). Milland can offer Mitchell what he needs to take power.
Tony Blair's PR spin-doctor Alastair Campbell is obviously the inspiration for this film. Milland plays the role of domineering adviser to Thomas Mitchell, and Milland gets his way. The cast are all good in this film, with fallen girl Audrey Totter (Donna) getting a special mention she is funny, intuitive and tragic all at the same time. I thought the film was a bit talky at the beginning but it does seem necessary in order to set the scene. And there certainly is an air of mystery when Milland appears. There are various good scenes, my favourite being when Totter ends up speaking the dialogue that she has just rehearsed with Milland. At first she dismisses Milland for talking nonsense, but there comes a moment when she is with Mitchell and she realizes what is happening. Some of the rehearsed dialogue did not make sense to her when first repeated. But it all fits now. It's well acted and directed and it's the most memorably chilling moment for me. Good direction, effective camera shots and a good music score round out the other film highlights.
So, if you fancy running for any kind of position of power in the political arena, just remember to carry a bible with you ..or there may be trouble.
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