This self described"film noir" from MGM of A Bullet for Joey(released Apr/55)starring,among others,Edward G. Robinson as Insp. Raoul Leduc and George Raft as Joe Victor aka Steiner,is unfortunately a bust.I do not believe for a second this film falls within the film noir category like a Big Sleep or DOA would.To me it's a just a plain melodrama of cops vs the bad guys.The pairing of these two pros was,on paper,fantastic,but on screen the paper thin plot falls as flat as Raft's feet.
The story finds a gang of origin unknown,after the brains of a professor working on secret project involving,the soup de jour of the cold war 50s,the A-Bomb.The location funny enough is not New Mexico but Montreal.The gang plans to kidnap the professor and sail him away to an unspecified foreign government,and they employ the efforts of a well known U.S.gangster(Raft)in doing that.Raft calls up three of his best men from the old days along with an old flame from Cuba.Her job is to put the hussle on the professor and lure him into their clutches.Things start off well as one of Raft's boys pretends to fall in love with the prof's secretary,but after she spills the beans on what kind of work the prof's working on and its' location,she winds up dead in a field.Things start to slowly unravel after this.He goes back to L.A.while Raft,in his absence,finds out about his deed.Raft makes sure he never sees the next sunrise again.
Robinson is the local Inspector for the Montreal detachment of the RCMP and he has been working on the case,unbeknownst to him,from the start,after a fellow RCMP officer was killed early on in the film.The same gang that killed the cop are also involved with the planned kidnapping.Robinson's leads get he and an associate kidnapped and taken aboard a ship the gang has paid for.When Robinson lets a flare off alerting the local Canadian Coast Guard,the gang now has to dispose of the professor.Raft who has now been paid,also has been wanting off the ship but has gotten no where.He originally planned to leave when the Coast Guard arrived,but has a change of heart after Robinson had earlier tweaked his conscience.Raft disposes of the chief gang member before he can kill the prof.However he gets fatally wounded in the process and dies in Robinson's arms.
Robinson essentially is the #1 star here.With his presence and acting ability,he steals every scene he is in.But the script is pedestrian stuff and fails to excite at any stage of the game.Seeing old gangster buddies Raft and Robinson together once more was a delight but there was nothing for them to do,and was all for naught.The final scene with Raft dying in Robinson's arms,even looked and sounded comical.Funny enough 1955 was the last year founder UA member Mary Pickford was to have in her company.She sold her stake in it for about $1.5 million.UA had become known as the studio without a studio,financing independent projects elsewhere,thus reducing overhead.
Technically speaking the film is full frame and is grainy off and on,especially noticeable in dark scenes.It needs a good remastering,but I doubt if MGM,for a film of this"calibre",would be interested in spending the money.
All in all,what should have been an exciting pairing of two old pros in Robinson and Raft,turns into a flat yawn fest very early on.Robinson steals every scene he's in but in the end it is all for nothing.