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Gregory La Cava
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Eddie Darrow has been hired by Philadelphia mobster Barney Pendleton to locate Christine Lawrence (Eddie's ex-lover and widow of Barney's former associate) and bring her home. Eddie tracks her down in Macao, where he saves the life of casino owner Justin Keet, then finds that Christine is engaged to marry Justin. Life gets awfully complicated... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tony Curtis and Joanne Dru renew their attraction while escaping the clutches of Lyle Bettger
"Forbidden" is not a lost noir, having appeared on the old AMC channel uncut and without commercial interruptions. However, it hasn't been released on DVD and that may explain why there are only 3 reviews of it here. If it ever does come out, be assured that it is a very good noir, even if not pathbreaking. What it has to offer is a fine cast, some excitement and suspense, fine cinematography, a complex story that moves right along logically, and even a neat special effect at the end.
The protagonist leads are very attractive, Tony Curtis and Joanne Dru. Curtis has a straightforward role as a sharp New York street guy who figures situations out fast and is good in a brawl. Joanne Dru steps away from her more usual western roles to play a sophisticated woman who has a past with Tony and gangsters. She's rejected him for other men before, and now for Lyle Bettger, when Tony catches up with her in Macao. Tony's behavior in the past didn't help their togetherness any either. The old attraction to Tony comes back, this time for good, but Bettger won't let go.
Dru's smoldering beauty is worth the price of admission, but she has so much more to offer, one wonders how she ever got stuck in westerns. In one love scene with Tony, her eyes and hug become as passionate as one will ever see in such a scene. Dru's on-screen persona is something like off-screen, which was feisty and independent, and yet endearing. She was married to singer Dick Haymes, then actor John Ireland, had money troubles, and finally married a very rich businessman. Dru did play in some real winners, such as the noir "711 Ocean Drive", "All the King's Men" and a favorite of mine, "Wagonmaster", not to mention "Red River". While not known as a really big star, she sure is looking good today.
Bettger has immense screen presence, with his full and somewhat raspy voice. Here he's affable on the surface but a dangerous man to cross, plus he's very possessive of Joanne Dru. Curtis has an in with Bettger by saving his life, but the road soon turns rocky.
For support, there is Marvin Miller as a heavy sent by New York gangsters to monitor Curtis, who is supposed to return Dru to New York in order to keep her from releasing incriminating documents. Miller made a career both from acting and voice overs. His roles in noirs like "Dead Reckoning", "The Brasher Doubloon", and "Johnny Angel" are memorable. He sometimes gets the short end of the stick. Also playing a key role in the Macao setting of the story is an old Chan hand and pro, Victor Sen Yung.
This is the kind of story whose basic idea is straightforward. Curtis and Dru are rekindling a romance while trying to figure out how to escape from Bettger, who is a big man in Macao and who is sharp enough to understand what's happening with his wife. You could say that not much happens. Yet the story is intricate in that it goes from one challenge and difficult situation to another, logically, and keeping the suspense going. The development of the story, it seems to me, is smoother than many a thriller and action picture of today which sometimes are by turns too slow, or too concocted, or too unrealistic.
A good Universal noir from the classic era.
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