The Narrow Margin (1952)

Not Rated  |   |  Film-Noir, Thriller  |  4 May 1952 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,833 users  
Reviews: 76 user | 53 critic

A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.



(screen play), (story), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Gordon Gebert ...
Queenie Leonard ...
Mrs. Troll
Peter Virgo ...
Paul Maxey ...
Harry Harvey ...
Train Conductor


When a mobster's wife decides to testify against his evil deeds, she goes under cover to avoid being killed. Now that he's coming to trial, she has to be escorted across country by train in order to testify. Cop Walter Brown and his partner are assigned the task, but the mob are on their trail. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


'KEEP THAT DAME AWAY FROM THE GRAND JURY!"...Terror rides night as killers talk woman witness! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 May 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Target  »

Box Office


$188,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The route the train takes is the route of the old Santa Fe Railroad. The Amtrak Southwest Chief takes that same route as of 2009. See more »


The gangster Joseph Kemp is shown looking for mob witness Mrs. Neale in the upper berths of the sleeping car, but these could only be dropped using a Pullman berth key. The car porter is unlikely to have lent his work tool to a passenger. See more »


Mrs. Neall: opening her compartment door in the morning and seeing Brown strap on his gun "What're you gonna do, go out and shoot us some breakfast?"
See more »


Referenced in Kindergarten Cop (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Windsor & McGraw: 2 Film Noir Hall-Of-Famers
9 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was the "original" and, like its re-make "Narrow Margin" (the "The" is missing), it is excellent. This is one of those rare cases in which the old and the new versions both are top-notch.

In fact, it's interesting to compare the two versions. In this film, there is a very unique twist as the end concerning the woman being brought to Los Angeles. It was clever.

That woman in this 1952 version also is played by perhaps the First Lady Of Noir, Marie Windsor. She had the best lines in the film and is outstanding at playing the tough-talking moll of this genre. (See Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" to fully appreciate more of Windsor's work.)

The film noir tough-guy male equivalent of her also stars in this film: Charles McGraw. Few guys ever looked and sounded better in noirs than McGraw. He and Windor were born to play in 'B' crime movies!

The short length of this film makes it a good one to watch anytime although, to be frank, if I could only own one of the two "Narrow Margin" films, I'd have to take the latter-day version with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer, but it would a tough decision. Both have a lot to offer.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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