After years of pursuit, Assistant D.A. Martin Ferguson has a good case against Murder, Inc. boss Albert Mendoza. Mendoza is in jail and his lieutenant Joseph Rico is going to testify. But Rico falls to his death and Ferguson must work through the night going over everything to build the case anew. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
After several days of filming, director Bretaigne Windust fell seriously ill and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Humphrey Bogart asked his old friend, director Raoul Walsh, to come in and shoot the picture until Windust recovered. Unfortunately, Windust was more seriously ill than most realized, and his recovery took several months, during which Walsh finished the film. However, Walsh refused to take screen credit for it, saying that the picture was Windust's big break and he wasn't going to take it away from him. See more »
When Rico gets in his car at the hideout on his way to fulfill a "contract" in the city, a crew member is visible in the reflection of the window of the car door as it is closed. See more »
District Attourney Ferguson loses his only witness in the trial of Albert Mendoza - the head of Murder Incorporated, an organisation of killers. With hours to go to the case is dismissed, Ferguson decides to go back over the evidence from the start to try to find something else that could be used to try him.
This film is not very famous and is never listed when people talk of Bogart. This is mainly because it's not part of his film noir, hard boiled batch and it doesn't have a strong romantic subplot. However it's still got much to cheer about. The story feels very basic by today's standards - however this was one of the first films to bring in the language of hitmen, even though now everyone knows what a "hit" and a "contract" means. The story unfolds in flashbacks, and involves flashbacks within flashbacks - so it's not as simple as you think. At it's time it was very different to other films.
The performances are all good, the group of hitmen in particular stand out in their portrayal of tough guys who turn to fear and mistrust when the law closes in. Bogart is good in a straight role but despite his billing he is not the best role. De Corsia, Sloane, Mostel et al are the real stars and are very good in their hitmen guises.
The film was based on the discovery and cases of the real "murder inc" in the 40's and is told in the crime story style that would become more used in the 1950's. Due to our familarity of the hitman scene in movies nowadays, it won't set the screen on fire but it's still very enjoyable to watch.
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