Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


KNOCK ON ANY DOOR (1949). Director: Nicholas Ray.

"Live fast, die young, have a good-looking corpse."

Against his better judgment lawyer Andrew Morton (Humphrey Bogart) takes the case of "Pretty Boy"Nick Romano (John Derek), who's been accused of killing a cop. Morton believes that Romano is innocent, but during the trial, he tries to convince the jury that it was society that made Romano -- who is guilty of other crimes -- the angry young man he is. The point is never made, even by the prosecutor, that many others came from the same environment as Romano and were able to rise above it. Knock on Any Door is an entertaining film with two excellent lead performances, but the movie is staggeringly simplistic and one-sided. The dead cop is completely forgotten and his family is never shown. An alternate point of view is never presented. Even when the truth about the murder is revealed at the end of the film, the bleeding heart approach still continues. Absurd. Prosecutor George Macready is given a disfiguring scar as if to imply that he hates the defendant because of his good looks, but the film makes clear that Romano is pretty much a stinker of a human being any way you slice it.

Verdict: Fast-paced but foolish. **1/2.


David K. said...

Watched this several years ago and remember Bogart's closing argument upsetting me. Although it was a good performance, he advocated that "It Takes a Village" and that personal responsibility is passe. Love Bogie, but very poor storyline.

William said...

I agree with you and your memory is correct. Bogie's performance was very good, however, as you noted. The picture would have been much improved with an alternate point of view.

Thanks for your comment! Bill