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The Enforcer More at IMDbPro »

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Post 1950 police noir with flashbacks inside of flashbacks.

Author: max von meyerling from New York
7 September 2003

This is a perfect example of the typical post-1950 noir which tended to be told from the point of view of the police rather than the criminal so they are less existential than the classic pre-1950 noir. Blame it on the blacklist. Anyway, it retains the noir virtues of a simple story economically told and expressively photographed. Only the garishness of containing a super star and being directed, uncredited, by Raoul Walsh , lifts this film to 'A' status but in fact this is a 'B' picture all the way.

There are plot holes aplenty, cars which are fifteen years out of date, an unusually high body count and police procedures which would give the ACLU, if not the Supreme Court, apoplexy. That said The Enforcer is a lot of fun and a satisfying little picture. Connoisseurs of character actors will have a field day as the picture contains a who's who of heavies and henchmen.

THE ENFORCER is one of the few noirs with the hyper classic devise of a flashback inside of a flashback. In fact there are three of them. The body of the film is D.A. Humphrey Bogart and cop Roy Roberts reviewing their notes for a case against a murder for hire racket. During the review they recall the arrest Zero Mostel who tells a story about joining the gang of killers. Then they listen to a dying man who tells a story of a failed hit. In another flashback a man who we already know to be dead tells a story of the organizations first hit. There have been more convoluted flashback structures (there are some with flashbacks inside of flashbacks inside of flashbacks) but at least add THE ENFORCER to the list of noirs with flashbacks within flashbacks.

P.S. Ted de Corsia should either try to stay away from high places or else get a good pair of sneakers- c.f. THE NAKED CITY.

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29 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Playing to packed houses in Paris

Author: Don Ediger ( from Paris, France
2 March 2003

The Enforcer, whose French title is La femme à abattre, plays often to packed houses in Paris. More than one French critic has called the film a gem (un joyau) among film noir classics. Indeed, its popularity in France says lots about pure plot lines and straightforward characterizations which make the film accessible to non-English-speaking audiences. As many readers know, the French are crazy about American film noir, and it's common to see parents bring their children to see movies like The Enforcer. I recently sat next to such a family when the film played in March 2003 at the Grand Action cinéma in Paris. It was almost moving to hear the father explain to his son that they would be seeing a film which, in his words, is a classic with great insights in the American psyche. Hearing them speak made me wonder how many American families use films of decades past to teach their children about the world in which we live.

By the way, the three cinémas in the Action chain in Paris regularly play American films noirs and other classic American movies, many of them in newly restored versions.

Don Ediger

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A Neat Little "How He Gets Caught" Plot

Author: theowinthrop from United States
5 August 2004

This was one of the last twenty films of Bogart's career. Having finally achieved stardom with HIGH SIERRA (also directed by Raoul Walsh) and THE MALTESE FALCON, Bogie (by 1950) was in a position to pick and choose what films he would make. Artistically his peak was probably THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRES in 1948, but his Oscar winning film, THE African QUEEN, was in 1951, and he still had IN A LONELY PLACE and THE CAINE MUTINY in his future.

Here he returns to Walsh as his director, and leads a bunch of fellow character actors in a nice example of the thriller that is based on the error that undoes the evil criminal - an inverted detective story device that is best seen today in the television series of COLUMBO.

It is a first rate bunch of character players, led by a superb quartet of evil: Everett Sloan, Ted de Corsia, Jack Lambert, and Bob Steele. Sloan played villains before (he is that nasty customer, Arthur Bannister the great attorney, in Orson Welles's THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI), but his performance shows what he could achieve with so little. He only appears in two scenes in the film (one when he invents "Murder, Inc." before de Corsia's astounded eyes; the other when he is alternately arrogant and panic-stricken in the prison cell he resides in). A normal looking, even dapper little man, he is a human monster. De Corsia is wonderful as the "Abe Reles" character, whose fear of Sloan/"Mendoza" leads to his death (historically, Reles probably was thrown out of the window of his hotel by policemen who were bribed to do so, although they tied a set of sheets together to make it look like Reles was killed in a stupid attempt at escaping). Listen to the way he describes the unfortunate Tony Vetto, the cab driver who witnessed Mendoza's first murder, by describing his face - a combination of disgust and dismissal in the description as de Corsia reads the line. Lambert is a forgotten character actor, who played many hoods in his films (he could, like De Corsia and Steele, look threatening very easily). But he usually has above-average intelligence(watch him in THE KILLERS - he's the first of Albert Dekker's gang who figures out that the double cross may not be from Burt Lancaster). Here he tries to keep incarcerated as protection from Sloan and De Corsia, only to find he has to cooperate with Bogart to be safely imprisoned. Steele was a cowboy film star, but he appeared with Bogie twice as sadistic gunmen. Here he is Herman, one of the torpedoes of Mendoza's gang. But Herman could be a cousin of "Canino", the creep who works for Eddie Geiger in THE BIG SLEEP, and who poisons a (for once) poignantly tragic Elisha Cook Jr. Steele was a good actor, but most people who don't recall his heyday as a cowboy star remember him only as the garrulous Sergeant Duffy in television's "F-TROOP" ("There I was at the Alamo with Davy Crockett...").

The most interesting casting of all is Zero Mostel, as Babe, the hapless, fat thug who gets in over his head (but does survive, for all that). Mostel was in several good films in the early 1950s (PANIC IN THE CITY, with Richard Widmark, Jack Palance, and Paul Douglas is another example). He even was in two films with Bogart (this one and SIROCCO, where he played a slightly more evil character). But the black list ended his budding movie career, and forced him into nightclub work, and back to the legitimate theater - to ULYSSES IN NIGHTOWN, RHINOCEROS, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. He ended being one of the great stars of Broadway history, with two first rate performances captured on film: FUNNY THING HAPPENED.... (as Pseudolus), and THE PRODUCERS (as Max Bialystok). One can regret the unfairness of the blacklist, and the lost film performances, but then he might have remained a character actor in supporting parts, and not become a star. It is a point for all of us to think about.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Racket That Pays Best

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
26 October 2006

Although the star of the film in terms of first billed in The Enforcer is Humphrey Bogart, the film's main character is Ted DeCorsia in what is probably his best screen performance.

Taking a lot of inspiration from Citizen Kane, District Attorney Humphrey Bogart and his two police investigators, Roy Roberts and King Donovan try and piece back together a case against Everette Sloane who has started a new racket, murder for profit. The chief witness is Ted DeCorsia who after an attempt on his life, falls to his death while trying to escape from a window.

After DeCorsia's demise the night before the trial was to commence, Bogart and Sloane start listening to hours of tape from several witnesses to see if they can salvage the case. Like Charles Foster Kane's life, the story of the racket is told in flashback through the tapes.

DeCorsia is the main character because all roads lead to him as the number two guy, but only he can finger Sloane. DeCorsia is seen as the frightened witness and also as the tough racketeer. It's almost two characters in the same film, but DeCorsia delivers on both.

Everette Sloane is one chillingly evil villain. He's decided to sell the services of killers to those who need them. To other racketeers and to outsiders as well. No motive, the police can't track down the ] perpetrators. The words of this racket, like 'contract' and 'hit' are all familiar terms now, but then it was something fairly new.

Bogart's function is like the reporter{s} who pieced together the life of Charles Foster Kane. It's essentially passive, he's one of the few people whoever played a District Attorney in films who never got a courtroom scene. But in the end, frantically trying to find and protect a crucial witness, he becomes quite proactive to say the least.

Of course this is all borrowed from the stories about Murder, Inc. and it was familiar to the movie going public. But The Enforcer is a really taut crime drama that never lets your interest flag.

It's so good that I can almost forgive a major plot flaw. Through some gross stupidity on Bogart's part, Sloane realizes there's a witness out there who can nail him and he takes appropriate steps. I can't see in real life how that could have happened.

Still The Enforcer is a personal favorite of mine for Humphrey Bogart films and I think you'll like it too although when you see it you will see what Bogey did that almost blew the whole case.

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19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Another Spectacular Film Noir of Humphrey Bogart

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
31 January 2004

Dist. Atty. Martin Ferguson (Humphrey Bogart) has the chance for sending the criminal Albert Mendoza (Everett Sloane) to the electric chair. He depends on the testimony of Mendoza's right arm Joseph Rico (Ted De Corsia), who is so scared that commits a mistake and dies. Ferguson reads all the case again and again trying to find a new evidence or witness and through flashbacks, the viewer sees what has happened until the death of Rico. Will Ferguson find a missing point?

"The Enforcer" is one of those unforgettable films that you can see many times since there are many details. It is a masterpiece with a tight story, top-notch screenplay and excellent performances, with another great direction of Raoul Walsh. The plot is constructed like a puzzle through flashbacks; the black & white cinematography is fantastic, with the use of shadows specially in the exterior scenes; the conclusion is tense. Fans of film noir and police story will certainly enjoy this unknown jewel. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): 'Um Preço Para Cada Crime' ('A Price For Each Crime')

Note: On 09 October 2016, I saw this film again.

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20 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Great Start, But Disappointing After That

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
5 June 2006

This starts off powerfully, with a very interesting scene and some excellent film- noir photography, but after the witness dies, so does the movie in many respects.

From that point on, it's just a bunch of flashbacks. When the "live" scenes reappear, they are not always easy to discern what's going on. The film also becomes too talky too often.

However, the characters are tough and generally interesting, with some good acting. Film-noir-wise, despite the presence of superstar Humphrey Bogart along with guys like Zero Mostel, Everett Sloane and Ted de Corsia, it's average fare for the day. it could - and should - have been better.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre Police Procedural

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
18 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Murder, Inc" finds Humphrey Bogart playing a District Attorney who works closely with police detectives in the hopes of solving a series of violent murders. As the film progresses we learn that the murders were committed by a ring of assassins under the command of a devilish gang leader called Mendoza.

Directed by Bretaigne Windust, the film is told largely through flashbacks. Unfortunately Windust's direction is flat and his script uninspired, the film only coming alive during 3 action sequences, two of which were ghost directed by Raoul Walsh.

7/10 – Decades of television cop shows and police procedurals have diluted any impact "The Enforcer" might have once had. The always watchable Bogart turns in a solid performance, but the rest of the film is simply lacklustre. The film's finale is handled well, though, and a basement gangland meeting is suitably ominous.

Note: The film is often classed as a "film noir". It is not.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Humphrey Bogart and Film Noir....what more could you want?!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
7 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1949, Humphrey Bogart starred as a prosecutor in KNOCK ON ANY DOOR. The movie, in my opinion, was pretty lousy, as Bogart was amazingly "touchy-feely" and the film complained about how society is to blame for young hoodlums. However, with THE ENFORCER, once again Bogey was a prosecutor but with a much harder and clearly Film Noir edge. Instead of crusading to understand why young punks kill, this prosecutor was concerned with unraveling an organized crime racket whose income came through contract killings--talk about a change!

The film begins with the only witness against the head of this organized crime ring practically crawling out of his skin because he's so worried about being killed before he can testify in court. Through an accident, he does die and the case against "Mr. Big" seems dead. So, Bogey and his assistant review the case from the beginning and then all the things leading up to the current prosecution are shown step-by-step. It's a nice way to see how the process works and it manages to be tense and entertaining throughout. Because of the great camera work, snappy dialog and gritty no-holds-barred approach, this is clearly a Noir film.

The only negative about the film, and it's a tiny one, is that while Bogart's character is the prosecutor, he sure acts like a police detective! No sane prosecutor is going to take such risks and go on cases to investigate, as that clearly was the job of the cops. Still, if you ignore this small detail, it makes for a very dandy and satisfying film. Oddly, while an excellent movie, it is probably among the actors least famous and recognized films.

Finally, get a load of Everett Sloane in the film. This unassuming character actor sure plays against type in this movie--and it was surprising to see him in the role of Mr. Mendoza.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Technically good crime story

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
8 February 2002

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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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Crime, Kefauver & Killing By Contract

Author: seymourblack-1 from United Kingdom
16 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Enforcer" is a gripping tale about an investigation into the activities of a crime syndicate boss and the efforts of an Assistant D.A. to bring him to justice. The criminal in question was the head of a group of contract killers who carried out murders to order and avoided detection because their operatives never had any connection with their victims and so there were never any known motives or obvious leads for the authorities to follow up in their investigations. This concept, although very familiar to audiences today, was something very topical at the time of the film's release and also a matter of great public interest.

In the period immediately before the release of "The Enforcer", Senate Committee hearings on organised crime were chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver. These hearings were given national television coverage during a period when the medium was very new to most viewers and the revelations about the pervasive nature of organised crime and the existence of the outfit known as "Murder Incorporated" attracted extremely large audiences. It was during these broadcasts that the general public first became aware of some of the jargon used by hired killers and "The Enforcer" is credited as being the first movie to feature the words "contract", "hit" and "fingerman" in this context.

After a four year investigation into the activities of crime boss Albert Mendoza (Everett Sloane), Assistant D.A. Martin Ferguson (Humphrey Bogart) has a witness who has agreed to testify that he saw Mendoza kill a man. When the witness, Joe Rico (Ted de Corsia), dies suddenly as the result of an accident, Ferguson and Police Captain Frank Nelson (Roy Roberts) undertake a meticulous review of their investigation to date to try to find another piece of information which could lead to them being able to get Mendoza convicted.

The case files confirm that the investigation started when a frantic young man called "Duke" Malloy (Lawrence Tolan) visited a police station and reported that he's been forced to kill his girlfriend. It transpired that he was a hired killer who'd fallen in love with his intended victim and when he'd initially refused to go through with the job, he'd been pressured by other gang members into completing the contract. The overwrought Malloy hanged himself in a police cell and the investigation that followed involved police officers in gathering information from a variety of people including Malloy's fellow gang members.

Ferguson and Nelson's review eventually brings to light the name of another person who would be a perfect witness but unfortunately Mendoza becomes aware of this person's identity at the same and this leads to a desperate race against time for the police to find the potential witness before Mendoza's men do.

The movie's structure is interesting as an account of the police investigation is given in flashback with the stories of each of the interviewees often constituting a flashback within a flashback. The action is delivered with a good deal of pace and tension and despite the story's closeness to real events, the movie's style is always entertaining and not overly solemn in the way that some docu-noirs can be.

The colourful collection of characters featured in "The Enforcer" are brought to life vividly by the excellent cast and Humphrey Bogart is especially good as a man who is extremely determined and powerfully focused on his task but is nevertheless also very controlled and methodical when necessary.

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