7.4/10
4,905
57 user 51 critic

Force of Evil (1948)

Approved | | 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 Howland Chamberlain ... Freddie Bauer (as Howland Chamberlin)
Roy Roberts ... Ben Tucker
Paul Fix ... Bill Ficco
Stanley Prager 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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Numbers Racket See more »

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

The numbers shown in the newspaper do correctly add up as "Two & Two" figures: 784,342. 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

Wally: What do you mean "gangsters"? It's business.
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

 
Classic Noir film contains sensational performances , evocative cinematography and interesting intrigue
21 March 2014 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

An unethical and cynical lawyer called Joe Morse (John Garfield) , with an older brother he wants to help , becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket . But his elder brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) is one of these small-time operators who wishes to stay that way , opting not to deal with the mobsters (Roy Roberts , Paul Fix) who control the big-time . His employees are like family to him as his secretary, Doris Lowry (Chamberlain) , is like a daughter , then Joe falls in love for her . As the ambitious attorney attempts to save his brother from the mob boss's takeover of the numbers operation . The upright , though criminal brother refuses the help of the amoral advocate at law and he is ultimately forced to confront his conscience .

This enjoyable film contains emotion , thrills , suspense , charming intrigue about corruption , and a lot of elements of Noir cinema . Main actor and screenwriter/director were pursued by American government during ominous period of Mccarthismo. Thought-provoking writing credits , written by Polonsky ; being based on a novel novel "Tucker's People¨ by Ira Wolfert . Very good and sizzling acting by John Garfield as a corrupt lawyer . Garfield had a sad as well fruitful life , as he signed a contract with Warner Brothers, who changed his name to John Garfield . Won enormous praise for his role of the cynical Mickey Borden in ¨Four Daughters¨ (1938). Appeared in similar roles throughout his career despite his efforts to play varied parts , being his best film : ¨Body and soul¨ . He played in adventure movie as ¨The sea Wolf¨ , historical as ¨Juarez¨ , drama as ¨Tortilla flat¨, a cameo in ¨Jigsaw¨ and the noir classic ¨The postman always rings twice¨. Active in liberal political and social causes, he found himself embroiled in Communist scare of the late 1940s. Though he testified before Congress that he was never a Communist, his ability to get work declined. While separated from his wife, he succumbed to long-term heart problems, dying suddenly in the home of a woman friend at 39. His funeral was mobbed by thousands of fans, in the largest funeral attendance for an actor since Rudolph Valentino. Excellent support cast gives magnificent acting such as Thomas Gomez as Leo Morse , Marie Windsor as Edna Tucker , Roy Roberts as Ben Tucker, Paul Fix as Bill Ficco and introducing the attractive Howland Chamberlain .

Atmospheric and appropriate cinematography in black and white by George Barnes who along with James Wong Howe , John Alton and Nicolas Musuraka are the main cameramen of Noir genre . 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 . Thrilling as well as evocative musical score by the David Raskin (Laura) . Adequate photography in black and white filled with lights and shades , portentous interpretations and dark as well as twisted intrigue have made this a film nor classic . The motion picture was well directed by Abraham Polonsky and it was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1994 . Director Polonski was removed from the credits for a time after release, due to the blacklisting of supposed Communist sympathizers at the time . Polonsky was named as a member of the Communist Party by Hollywood 10 member Edward Dmytryk in Dmytryk's 1951 testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee , when the blacklisted director "named names" to revive his Hollywood career and effect a return from exile in Europe . After being named by former fellow O.S.S. member Sterling Hayden, Polonsky himself was arraigned before HUAC in 1951 . He was blacklisted and went into exile . As director and screenwriter , Polonsky was an "auteur" of three of the great film Noirs made in the last century: Body and soul (1947) screenplay , directed by fellow CPUSA member Robert Rossen, who kept his career by "naming names" , Force of evil (1948) which he wrote and directed , and Odds against tomorrow (1959) which he wrote using a front . Blacklisted after his uncooperative appearance before HUAC in April 1951, Polonsky did not get a chance to direct another film until 1968, when he helmed the production of the revisionist Western Tell them Willie Boy is here (1969), which he turned into an indictment of genocide . It wasn't until 1968 that he was credited on a film, for the screenplay for Don Siegel's exegesis of police corruption, Madigan (1968). Polonsky has a short career and after the release of the well-reviewed "Willie Boy," he helmed his last failed picture , the more light-hearted Romance of a horse thief (1971).


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