7.4/10
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57 user 52 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 ... 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:

Approved | 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

Paul Fix replaced Sheldon Leonard in the role of Bill Ficco. See more »

Goofs

During a climactic montage set at an East Coast racetrack on the Fourth of July, people in the stock footage crowd scenes are dressed in winter garments nobody would wear in the middle of summer. See more »

Quotes

Leo Morse: I am sensible. I am calm. I'll give you my answer calmly and sensibly, my final answer. My final answer is finally no. The answer is no! Absolutely and finally no! Finally and positively no! No! No! No! N - O!
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

Featured in Red Hollywood (1996) 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

 
Great mix of mobsters and sibling rivalry in overlooked gem...
14 March 1999 | by Don-102See all my reviews

Martin Scorsese has hailed this film as one of the forgotten masterpieces of the film-noir genre. He took it a step further by resurrecting the film from the vaults and teaching it at NYU in the late 60's. He said it was the first film he ever saw that related "to a world he knew and saw." Indeed, the film's realism and location shooting is great to see, especially Wall Street circa 1948. Those scrapers have stood for a long time. This is not traditional noir, however. It is an excellent study of a personal battle between two brothers. Joe (John Garfield) is a rich, corrupt mob lawyer, not unlike Duvall in the Godfather flicks. His older brother Leo (A great actor named Thomas Gomez) is a banker trying to live on the "up and up".

The relationship is a tragic one. Thomas Gomez must be one of the most underrated actors of his day. He steals every scene he's in with the quick-talking Garfield, who was so good in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. This may be familiar to fans of RAGING BULL, where both sets of brothers in two very different films love each other, but have a difficult time displaying affection.

Two fabulous scenes stand out and would be impossible if shot in color. The first occurs when Garfield stumbles upon a darkened office with his door slightly ajar. The light from his office cuts through the middle of the screen, allowing Garfield to snoop. Another is the shootout at the film's climax, where all of the three shooters are lying in the shadows, creating suspense based on what we cannot see. It is all done in a very impressionistic way, a superb use of lighting and shadow. This is black and white at its best. Pure and evil. A truly great film. I would stay focused on the scenes between Gomez and Garfield. This sad brotherhood plays incredibly against a brilliant backdrop of crime and double-crossing.

FORCE OF EVIL is another reminder of how good Hollywood films of the 1940's were. Without them, we probably would not have the classics of the past 25 years.


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