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The Narrow Margin (1952)

Not Rated | | Film-Noir, Thriller | 16 August 1952 (Italy)
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A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Director:

Richard Fleischer

Writers:

Earl Felton (screen play), Martin Goldsmith (story) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles McGraw ... Det. Sgt. Walter Brown
Marie Windsor ... Mrs. Frankie Neall
Jacqueline White ... Ann Sinclair
Gordon Gebert Gordon Gebert ... Tommy Sinclair
Queenie Leonard ... Mrs. Troll
David Clarke ... Joseph Kemp
Peter Virgo Peter Virgo ... Densel
Don Beddoe ... Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes
Paul Maxey Paul Maxey ... Sam Jennings
Harry Harvey ... Train Conductor
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Storyline

When a mobster's widow decides to testify and provide names of others involved in evil deeds, she goes undercover to avoid being killed. She is being escorted across country by train in order to testify. Cop Walter Brown and his partner are assigned the task, but the mob are on their trail. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Fortune If They Seal Her Lips!...A Bullet If They Fail! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1952 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Target See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$188,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The route the train takes is the route of the old Santa Fe Railroad. The Amtrak Southwest Chief takes that same route as of 2009. See more »

Goofs

The gangster Joseph Kemp is shown looking for mob witness Mrs. Neale in the upper berths of the sleeping car, but these could only be dropped using a Pullman berth key. The car porter is unlikely to have lent his work tool to a passenger. See more »

Quotes

Walter Brown: You're off your stick - way off.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pretty Little Liars: Shadow Play (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Terror and intrigue on the Chicago to L.A rail-line.
29 July 2005 | by sol1218See all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** Tightly directed and acted Film-Noir thriller with the only thing a bit off about it is it's somewhat unrealistically surprise ending.

Up until the "suprise" was sprung on you the film "The Narrow Margin" had you sitting on the edge of your seat. The movie had you wondering if mob-protected witness Mrs. Frankie Neil, Marie Windsor,would make with her life to the safety of the L.A Hall of Justice to testify against her late husband's, Frankie, mob associates; the important and upstanding citizens, politicians police and clergy, in the community who they were paying off to do their bidding.

In conjunction with the Chicago and L.A police departments L.A Det. Sgt. Walter Brown,Charles McGraw, together with local Chicago Poilce Sgt. Gus Forbes, Don Beddoe are assigned to take Mrs. Neil back to L.A to testify against the national crime syndicate.

At the safe-house where Mrs. Neil is being held for her own protection there's a mob ambush of the two lawman as they were taking Mrs. Neil to the rail station with Forbes getting shot and killed. Feelng now that he has a very personal reason to get those who murdered his friend and partner Sgt.Forbes is even more determined then ever to get Mrs. Neil to L.A alive to bring down the syndicate with her explosive testimony.

The train going to L.A ,and all stops in between, becomes a train of horrors for Sgt. Brown an Mrs. Neil as a group of mobsters enter it on different stops to find out just where Sgt. Brown is keeping his star witness with them having no idea who she is or even looks like. Sgt. Brown plays it close to his vest by keeping Mrs. Neil hidden in a double-cabin. Later he strikes up a relationship with passenger Ann Sinclair,Jacqueline White, whom he got to meet through her bratty little boy Tommy,Gordon Gebert., whom the mobsters mistake for Mrs. Neil;the person that their determined to knock off.

The movie moves along at a brisk pace and it's not until the big surprise towards the end that we realize that there's been an uncanny twist played on both Sgt. Brown and the mobsters by the higher ups in the L.A police department. The twist ending has to do with getting Mrs. Neil back to L.A safely. It's that twist that ironically not only throws you off but takes away from the movie's believability that it had up until then.

Still "A Narrow Margin" is more then worth watching with it's tense-filled build-up and with a fight scene between Sgt. Brown and hoodlum Joe Kemp, David Clarke,in a small and claustrophobic train cabin that has to rank as one of the most exciting in motion picture history.


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