Friday, May 30, 2003


Spoilers Below!
A classic film noir that gets off on the wrong foot for me since it's about the numbers racket and I always get lost in that kind of story. John Garfield plays a lawyer for a mob boss (Roy Roberts); the boss is about to launch a plan to turn his racket legit, but it involves driving out of business most of the "small guy" operators, one of whom is Garfield's brother, Thomas Gomez. The brothers aren't close but Garfield thinks he owes it to Gomez to help him out without giving away just how much he knows from being on the inside. Gomez, however, won't take a hint and his business falls apart, hurting him, his wife, and his employees, most of whom don't seem to know that they're involved in an illegal operation. Garfield gets close to Gomez's goody-goody secretary (Beatrice Pearson), though there is a brief subplot in which the mob boss's wife (Marie Windsor) comes on to him as well. Eventually, Gomez is killed and Garfield, in an attack of conscience, turns informer. The tense last 10 minutes or so is the best part of the movie, ending with a nicely symbolic journey downward for Garfield's catharsis. I may have gotten a few of the plot points garbled, but the film is worth seeing; it's moody, dark, and claustrophobic, and Garfield is at his best.

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