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Humphrey Bogart stars as a crusading district attorney working against the clock to prosecute a mob boss in this suspenseful picture that should appeal to crime completists and fans of the iconic actor. Based on actual court cases, the plot unfolds largely in flashback as Bogart reviews his case against vicious racketeer Everett Sloane, who has killed off anyone that has threatened to testify against him. Capably directed by Bretaigne Windust (with uncredited help from Raoul Walsh, who shot most of the film's most suspenseful moments, including the nail-biting conclusion), The Enforcer's standard law vs. the mob plotline benefits greatly from its unusual structure, as well as Bogart's solid presence and a terrific supporting cast, which includes an early turn by Zero Mostel. The opening narration is provided by Estes Kefauver, who was chairing a Senate investigation into organized crime at the time of the picture's release. --Paul Gaita
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Top Customer Reviews
The sets at the start are immensely black with long shadows in the dead of night. But as the film progresses and light is let in, through city and through country, things open up. It's a gritty world of immigrants and the unfortunate fear of people with names like Mendoza and Olga.
The character actors do memorable things with their lines and there is a more than effective use of flashbacks in the plot.
The music of a Romantic European orchestra, all heavy with strings and blaring brass, once again adds to a Bogart movie.
This may all seem rather tame and simple-minded to viewers raised on more recent crime films. But I find these old black-and-white pictures by Bogie and Cagney to be perfect in their own way.
Their "unrealistic realism" is less cluttered, more like art, but not pretentiously so. And they show an understanding of human nature, especially violence and the allure of the gun, which later films lack.
More than anything, this film has the greatest screen presence of them all, the dominating force that was Humphrey Bogart.
The story centers around the breaking of a crime syndicate whose work consists of murder for hire. Much of it is told in flashback with few flagging moments. This isn't Bogart's best, but you won't be disappointed. This is a water-down version of a real life event based in the mid-40's in NY City. Another film, Murder, Inc with Peter Falk is a grittier tale of the same incident.
Look for Zero Mostel in a supporting role and for the work of Raoul Walsh who has several uncredited directing scenes.
There are some goofy moments: the explaination of terms like "Hit" and "Contract" is laughable (right up there with "Psychosomatic" in "The Greatest Show On Earth"), but the film is beautiful to look at (a pristine transfer) and remarkably cliché-free.
Set up as a series of flash-backs and interweaving character lines, it is one of film noirs unsung masterpieces. Bogart does most of the talking, but the action is left up to others. Director Bretaigne Windust came out of TV, made some unremarkable features, and then went back to TV before dying at age 54. Too bad, because The Enforcer has all the hallmarks of a superior Anthony Mann film: atmosphere, tension, solid performances, and beautiful images.
It's an Olive FIlms release, and print and transfer are impeccable. The only down-side: no additional features. But the movie is worth it anyway. If you're a noir fan -- particularly the work of Anthony Mann -- then this is a must see.
I actually turned it off, and I love to watch Bogart films.
Don't bother, unless you have to watch them all.
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