7.4/10
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Force of Evil (1948)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | March 1949 (USA)
An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.

Director:

Abraham Polonsky

Writers:

Abraham Polonsky (screenplay), Ira Wolfert (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Garfield ... Joe Morse
Thomas Gomez ... Leo Morse
Marie Windsor ... Edna Tucker
Howland Chamberlain ... Freddie Bauer (as Howland Chamberlin)
Roy Roberts ... Ben Tucker
Paul Fix ... Bill Ficco
Stanley Prager ... Wally
Barry Kelley ... Detective Egan
Paul McVey ... Hobe Wheelock
Beatrice Pearson ... Doris Lowry
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Storyline

Lawyer Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation. But his elder brother Leo is one of these small-time operators who wants to stay that way, preferring not to deal with the gangsters who dominate the big-time. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

John Garfield puts his body and soul into Force of Evil.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tucker's People See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$948,000, 31 December 1949

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,165,000, 31 December 1949
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In order to show cinematographer George Barnes how he wanted the film to look, Abraham Polonsky gave him a book of Edward Hopper's Third Avenue paintings. See more »

Goofs

When Joe reads the newspaper at the beginning of the film about the prosecutor cracking down on the numbers racket, the second paragraph of the story is about another topic entirely. See more »

Quotes

Leo Morse: The money I made in this rotten business is no good for me, Joe. I don't want it back. And Tucker's money is no good either.
Joe Morse: The money has no moral opinions.
Leo Morse: I find I have, Joe. I find I have.
See more »

Alternate Versions

All existing copies of the film are of the version that was cut by 10 minutes in order to fit into a double bill. See more »

Connections

Edited into American Cinema: Film Noir (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

String Quartet opus 131, no. 14: Ist Movement
(uncredited)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

beyond film noir...a classic and pessimistic view of humannature
2 August 2000 | by drmalitySee all my reviews

Superficially, "Force of Evil" can be considered a film noir and gangster movie. But it is so much deeper than that. The very bleak message I got from the film is that even decent people must submit to corruption to survive.

The character of Leo, superbly played by Thomas Gomez, is inherently honest and noble but he must live and work in the naturally shady numbers racket. He knows that he will be eventually crushed. This knowledge makes Leo one of the most bitter and tragic characters in film...a decent man whose life is dominated by futility.

The protagonist of the film, portrayed by John Garfield, is Leo's brother. He has ridden his job as a sleazy mob lawyer to a life of fame and ease. He has everything Leo doesn't. Yet despite his blustery banter, he,too,is uneasy with his position. He knows Leo is headed for disaster and pulls all the strings he can to protect him, even though Leo reacts to him with contempt. Their relationship is doomed by the corrupt methods both use to survive. Garfield's character finds redemption of a sort by the film's end but not before inevitable tragedy has struck.

There are many more levels to this complex film and discussion of them all could fill many pages. Above all, it is a beautiful movie,expertly directed with tremendous black and white imagery. The dialogue combines snappy patter with almost poetic sensibility. And the performances of all concerned are top notch. This is truly a treasure of cinematic art. Be prepared to think deeply when you watch it


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