Violence (1947) Poster


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Monogram cheapie about crypto-Fascist scam organization is, alas, no Decoy
bmacv11 November 2003
Much of the team that made Monogram's Decoy of the year before such a startling little thriller re-upped for the same studio's Violence: Director Jack Bernhard, co-scripter Stanley Rubin, composer Edward J. Kay, heavy Sheldon Leonard (the second-string Raymond Burr, who, like Burr, would find his fortune in television). Lightning, alas, failed to strike twice, so Violence remains a typically flawed Poverty-Row production.

In the basement of the Los Angeles headquarters of the United Defenders – a pseudo-populist scam organization to fleece angry veterans – a young recruit who stumbled onto the truth meets his unpleasant end. (This crypto-Fascist group has affinities with The Black Legion of a decade earlier.) Upstairs, however, the forced cheeriness prevails, with the head of this personality cult (`True' Dawson, played by Emory Parnell) bidding his loyal secretary (Nancy Coleman) goodbye as she leaves for a vacation to Chicago. Little does he suspect that Coleman is an investigative reporter working undercover on an exposé of the racket, which will hit the streets as soon as she's safe in the Windy City. Leonard, one of his lieutenants, does have his suspicions about, as well as unresolved feelings for, Coleman, but can't find the evidence, so off she goes.

In Chicago en route to her magazine's offices, Coleman's cab crashes trying to elude a mysterious pursuer (Milo O'Shea). Hospitalized, Coleman wakes to find herself in a state of amnesia (of the trickiest sort: She remembers things that are convenient to advancing the story but forgets everything else). Back on the coast, she has no memory of her journalistic scoop and so thinks herself a loyal soldier for the United Defenders; she also believes she's engaged to O'Shea, because he told her so. And the plot lumbers on, with the murdered man's widow showing up to find him, and an all-powerful `Mr. X' looming darkly behind the whole operation....

Violence is riddled with holes and implausibilities (of the type that, in today's Hollywood, would all but guarantee a blockbuster). Rather transparently, it draws on themes and issues that sparked the early years of the noir cycle: The dissatisfaction of returning veterans and post-war labor strife (and might the demagogue's name `True' be an echo of then-president Harry S Truman's?). But the topical references prove no more than gimmicks for a quick-and-dirty production that has little coherence or resonance.
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Unusual, Politically Ominous Veterans Noir
lchadbou-326-2659213 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It is unusual to start a film with a sequence of an American flag, flying outside a building, and have it not accompanied by the usual rah-rah-rah patriotic music but instead by a dramatic ominous, sinister cue. That's because in Violence the flags front a disturbing sort of Fascist scam called The United Defenders, trying to recruit World War II veterans who may be dissatisfied with late 1940s conditions into stirring up demonstrations of hatred which can then be used by powerful wealthy sources behind the scenes, for their own purposes. This opening further develops into a contrast between the dark basement of the building, where thugs played by Sheldon Leonard and Peter Whitney beat up (and eventually kill) a veteran who has broken with them; and the brightly lit upstairs office. Nancy Coleman, an interesting minor actress, plays the secretary who has a somewhat overplayed tic of holding her hands to her face to indicate nervousness. We learn she is really working undercover for a magazine that's about to publish an expose of this racket. In one of those plot twists which noirs are famous for, she gets amnesia in a car accident, which complicates things, but a friendly man played by Michael O'Shea who is also trying to infiltrate the group helps her. I was reminded, in one scene where a young veteran stands up to question the bullying True Dawson, leader of the group (acted in a rather loud and hammy style by Emory Parnell) of the scene in the recent film The Master where a participant in the cult presided over by Philip Seymour Hoffman dares to question their mumbo-jumbo, and what happens to him. The film culminates in a neat ending where a mysterious, darkly lit figure known as Mister X, who was going to give the United Defenders a big bankroll until one of their violent riots went astray, is trying to slip out of town on a train. We recognize him only by the signet ring he wore in an earlier scene. The scene leaves it up to our imagination if and how he will be apprehended. Violence has its crudities: an overly emphatic music score,and story points that stretch credibility, but it is of great interest as an expression of murky political turmoil in the early US Cold War years.
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Understanding the time
drjgardner2 June 2016
"Violence" is a 1947 low budget black and white film dealing with the problem of veterans adjusting to a society that seemingly doesn't provide adequately for their post-war needs. Most viewers today may not understand the topic but in 1947 this was a major topic as returning servicemen tried to adjust to society and as society tried to absorb them back into the workforce and life in general.

During the War strikes were forbidden and women took on major roles in the workforce. With millions of returning servicemen looking for jobs, businesses took the opportunity to reduce wages. So jobs were in short supply and wages were low. Many industries were scaling down from war production. Strikes began in major industries.

In the Great Strike Wave of 1945-46 Truman threatened to take over railroads if strikes persisted. Democrats lost the election in 1946 and the Republicans passed the Taft-Hartley Act limiting the ability of unions to strike.

On top of this, many veterans had mental health problems that were not being treated, promoting Truman to establish NIMH in 1946.

In the middle of this turmoil, HUAC was created in 1945 and became extremely active in 1947.

By the early 50s the Cold War was well in progress and the U.S. experienced enormous prosperity, and this transitional period between 1945 and 1950 was forgotten.

This film, as ordinary as it is, reflects some of the concerns of the times.

My favorite films about this era are "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), "Till the End of Time" (1946), "Home of the Brave" (1949), and "The Men" (1950).
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There was a leak but we got it plugged up now
kapelusznik182 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS***Taking advantage of the many disgruntle WWII veterans returning from the war with nothing to look forwarded ex-con as well as con artist Ture "Man of the People" Dawson, Emory Parnell, forms this group calling itself "The United Defenders"-who's backed by the mysterious Mister X- that's to cure the nations and returning veterans of their suffering, in being out of work with no future to look forward to, after the war ended. In fact this organization is really nothing but a recruiting goon squad used by Dawson to break heads and keep workers in line for big business interests who are paying him off to do their dirty work.

It's spunky L.A's investigative reporter Ann Dwire, Nancy Coleman, who tries to infiltrate the "United Defenders" and expose them and their leader "Ture" Dawson who ends up being one of the organization's most fanatical supporters! That's after being involved in a car crash where she lost her memory as well as name now calling herself Ann Mason. There's also the tough US Government agent Steve Fuller, "Irish" Michael O'Shea, who's been on to Dawson's organization antics since day one who uses the fact that he's engaged-which is all BS-to Ann not only to get close to her but her boss in order to expose his racket!

***SPOILERS*** Using disgruntle veterans wasn't new here in 1947 it was used back in 1934 by big US bankers and big business interests to try to overthrow the FDR Administration by trying to get decorated war or better yet wars hero Let. General Smedley Butler, who in fact turned them in, to lead a US million man Veterans March on Washington D.C in order to install by force of arms a banker and industrialist fascist regime to tun the US Government. In here politics wasn't the reason for Dawson's plans but just money and it fell apart when both Ann Dwire, who got her memory back, and Agent Fuller broke the case against Dawson and his his organization secret plans wide open to the public. Not one of the great movies of our time "Violence" does show how unscrupulous and power hunger men can use those that they claim to help to end up destroying themselves like in so many fascist and communist dictatorships did after they risk and in many cases lose their lives in getting them into power!
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