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

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Dennis O'Keefe will have to deal with John Ireland
RAW DEAL (1948). Director: Anthony Mann.

Lawyer Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt of Smash Up) visits Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe of Hold That Kiss) in jail to talk about parole, but she's as attracted to him as he is to her. Joe took the rap for a big wheel named Rick (Raymond Burr) who promised him big money if he served his sentence. But Joe's faithful girlfriend, Pat (Claire Trevor of Crossroads), somehow breaks Joe out of jail in a million to one chance (the exact details are completely glossed over!), and the big lug brings her to -- Ann's apartment. In an interesting development, Joe forces Ann to go along with him and Pat as they drive past police blockades and try to get out of the city, which doesn't exactly sit well with the jealous Pat. Ann at first grows to hate the man she is attracted to, but then ... Yes, this is the type of movie in which the protagonist is a complete loser, but gets away with a lot because he's passably good-looking and has a slight -- very slight -- modicum of sensitivity. Raw Deal should have been more interesting than it is -- although it does pose a heart-rending moral question for Pat at the very end -- but the characters are unsympathetic (although one almost feels sorry for Pat) and the movie never quite rises above its second-rate film noir atmosphere. Hunt and Trevor are excellent, however, and O'Keefe got one of the best roles of his career and runs with it. Raymond Burr is also fine as Rick, who is so sadistic that he throws a flaming food dish in a woman's face because she accidentally spilled a drink on his jacket. John Ireland is a nasty henchman of Rick's who is sent to kill Joe, and Regis Toomey is the cop in pursuit of him. The versatile Whit Bissell has a memorable cameo as a murderer being chased by a posse who just happens to make his way to the same place that Joe and company are hiding out in. John Alton's moody cinematography doesn't hurt. Mann also directed the excellent Furies with Barbara Stanwyck.

Verdict: Very good showcase for O'Keefe with some interesting situations. **1/2.

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