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A Dangerous Profession is a mildly diverting crime picture featuring a fine cast headed by veterans George Raft and Pat O'Brien, both of whom had seen better days by the time they appeared in this picture. Nor is the direction of the usually reliable Ted Tetzlaff up to his usual standard. This is the kind of small scale but not quite grade B movie that television was about to make obsolete, and as such an interesting historical footnote of a bygone era for those who care for such things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although George Raft and Pat O'Brien share star billing in A Dangerous
Profession, the film's action is mainly carried by Raft with O'Brien
strictly in support. The two of them play bail bondsman, partners in a
bail bond firm. But Raft has a professional and romantic past that get
in the way here.
Ella Raines with whom Raft had a fling while she was separated from husband Bill Williams comes to Raft for help with bail. Williams comes from a rich background, but his daddy squandered the family fortune and he's not up to a lifestyle change. Williams gets himself in with some crooks doing a little white collar crime and finds himself hung with a murder rap of the investigating detective.
The plot starts out like a poor man's Casablanca with Raft like Bogart coming to the aid of his former love's husband whom he didn't know anything about. O'Brien who's not thinking with his hormones doesn't want the firm involved, but Raft insists. Later on Williams turns up dead himself and then Raft's old profession of police detective kicks in despite O'Brien warning him of an inherent conflict of interest.
I wish we had seen a little more of Pat O'Brien, but A Dangerous Profession is a competently made noir film. Ella Raines does well as a combination of Lauren Bacall and Lizabeth Scott in her role as the woman that everyone can't resist. Jim Backus plays Raft's former partner as a cop and he's showing some versatility here that will surprise those who only know him as the inept Mr. Magoo and the rich Thurston Howell IV.
One of the competently made noir films that Raft was doing in the later part of the Forties. His films would go considerably downhill shortly.
A career police detective turned bail bondsman (George Raft) meets his ex-flame (Ella Raines) (he knows it's her because of the scent of the perfume that's in her and her husband's hotel room which he and detective Jim Backus search) in a fairly intricate story about her husband (Bill Williams) whose arrested for suspicion of killing a cop and then bailed out by Raft, against the wishes of his partner (Pat O'Brien). Why he's bailed out and who actually comes up with sufficient money to get him out of jail make for interesting viewing. As well, Ella Raines hits some of her more sultry looking scenes in this movie, which may not be the best movie she's ever been in, but still percolates along more than acceptably, especially when the real killer emerges as the sharp little film heads out of LA and into a convenient canyon.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bail bondsman George Raft gets in over his head when he bails out
robbery suspect Bill Williams, the husband of an old girlfriend (Ella
Raines). This puts him up against various factors on both sides of the
law including a fellow former partner (Jim Backus, ultra-serious here)
and officer Pat O'Brien. As he gets further involved in his
ex-girlfriend's life and finds out information on Williams, the pieces
of the puzzle get more puzzling, resulting in a murder.
This is certainly watchable, if a sometimes dull film noir/mystery, the audience getting equally as confused as Raft as he tries to wrap everything up. The intro lesson on how the bondsman works is interesting, but perhaps a different case with more developed characters and less people involved in the first place. Still, lighting and shadows provide the right atmosphere, and Raft's detective work is appropriately seedy. One of the people whom Raft interviews slightly looks and very much sounds like Werner Klemperer of "Hogan's Heroes" even though he is not listed in the credits for this film.
I wouldn't exactly call this a noir, although it is a hardboiled
detective yarn. It reminded me of The Big Sleep mainly because of its
rambling story line. Raft is no Bogart and Ella Raines is no Bacall.
His stiff delivery gets tiring after you realize he really doesn't have
anything interesting to say. Her sultriness falls far short of what's
required for the role of bad girl. And her hair is incredibly awful.
The photography was above par. When the character of Lucy is introduced in the story, you just see the back of her hat. Then there's a close-up, and well, it's just Ella Raines. The script is a lot of yak, some of it's kinda good, but it's still mainly a yakfest. I gave-up after 55 minutes.
George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Ella Raines, Jim Backus...how can you go wrong? Warren Duff and Martin Rackin's screenplay is a total dud, being both boring and convoluted. Let's face it, bail bondsmen don't lead the most exciting lives, and this is an awfully long 79 minutes.
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