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83 user 47 critic

The Narrow Margin (1952)

Not Rated | | Film-Noir, Thriller | 16 August 1952 (Italy)
A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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(screen play), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Gordon Gebert ...
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Mrs. Troll
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Peter Virgo ...
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Paul Maxey ...
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Train Conductor
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Storyline

When a mobster's widow decides to testify and provide names of others involved in evil deeds, she goes undercover to avoid being killed. She is being 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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"Okay, copper - you rigged it! Let her stop a bullet!" See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 August 1952 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Target  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$188,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second reporter to enter the train after it arrives in Los Angeles is played by George Sawaya who is also Charles McGraw's stunt double during the fight on the train.This was his first stunt assignment and he went on to double Jack Webb on 'Dragnet'and Warren Beatty on 'Bonnie and Clyde'. See more »

Goofs

The witness is in danger for her life and is traveling incognito but we see her sitting in the lounge having a drink alone, engaging in conversation with a stranger, getting off the train to do some shopping, having breakfast in the meal car and generally not behaving like you would expect someone under threat of death by unknown assassins. As a recent widow, she's also not exactly in mourning. See more »

Quotes

Walter Brown: Sister, I've known some pretty hard cases in my time; you make 'em all look like putty. You're not talking about a sack of gumdrops that's gonna be smashed - you're talking about a dame's life! You may think it's a funny idea for a woman with a kid to stop a bullet for you, only I'm not laughing!
Mrs. Neall: Where do you get off, being so superior? Why shouldn't I take advantage of her - I want to live! If you had to step on someone to get something you wanted real bad, would you think twice about it?
Walter Brown: Shut...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Pretty Little Liars: Shadow Play (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great camera work. Sensational Marie Windsor. Implausible story, though.
23 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

"The narrow margin" is a remarkable film-noir with great merits, unfortunately marred by an implausible story.

There is a policeman (Charles McGraw) committed to protect a key witness (Marie Windsor), in severe danger of life, along a train journey. The only reasonable and likely behavior for the cop is to take some sandwiches, lock in the cabin with the witness, and sit down with a machine-gun on his lap. Of course, that would be the end of the film. So, to get a story, McGraw goes everywhere and does everything on the train, but staying with and protecting the witness. There is also a big surprise at the end. That is really unexpected. But if we think back to the previous events, this big twist makes the behavior of some characters wholly illogical.

Well, enough with the faults of the movie. The merits of this low-budgeted B-movie overcome its defects. The stylish cinematography is first-rate, and the camera-work is outstanding. The (few) action scenes are brilliant and filmed in a very original way. See, for instance the play of mirrors in the finale. Marie Windsor is sensational, and every scene with her is a treat. What a gangster moll, gutsy tough gal she is! In my opinion, she is even better here than in "The killing". Her lines are a perfect instance of cynical wisecracking. McGraw and the rest of the cast make a good job, as well. There is a good amount of suspense and no moments of bore.

Let me conclude with a somehow daring comparison. Independently by the composers, classic music of the 18th century is always beautiful. In a similar way, I think that American movies of the 1940s and early 1950s are all good: that is just a question of style, and how I love this style!

I recommend "The narrow margin", for its intrinsic merits, and to pay homage to a great season of cinema.


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