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Force of Evil [Blu-ray]


Price: CDN$ 34.62 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0080JG2QO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,676 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Format: DVD
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) presents "FORCE OF EVIL" (25 December 1948) (78 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Garfield is Joe Morse, a slick, self-centered lawyer who knows the law but feels he's above it --- He practices on Wall Street and has his eyes on millions, working on retainer for racketeer Ben Tucker (Roberts) --- The policy czar plans to have the number 776 come up on July 4; knowing that most people will bet on it, Tucker hopes to bankrupt and take over most of the city's smaller numbers operations --- Without spilling the beans, Joe attempts to get his kindly brother Leo (Gomez) to shut down for one day, but the stubborn older man feels obligated to let his regulars take their holiday chances --- Joe arranges for a police raid to break his brother's spirit, but to no avail --- After Tucker achieves his expected success on the Fourth, Leo's people, including bookkeeper Doris (Pearson), become nervous about the gangsters suddenly in their midst.

Dark and brooding, the film offers one of Garfield's greatest performances as the cynical, hard-as-nails lawyer --- A tour de force for gifted writer Polonsky, this film was the only film he directed before he was blacklisted for being an uncooperative witness before HUAC in 1951; he didn't direct another feature for 21 years --- At its best, the film achieves a style at once brutal and poetic, documentarian and noir.

Force of Evil is one of those rare film masterpieces in which the story, script, casting, acting, direction, photography, and sound design work in perfect harmony to create a taut and deeply enjoyable story.
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Format: DVD
Joe Morse (John Garfield) is a smart, cocky New York lawyer, and as corrupt as they come. "This is Wall Street," Joe tells us at the start of Force of Evil, "and today was important because tomorrow, July Fourth, I intended to make my first million dollars. An exciting day in any man's life. Temporarily, the enterprise was slightly illegal. You see, I was the lawyer for the numbers racket." Joe has a problem. His older brother, Leo (Thomas Gomez), runs a neighborhood numbers operation. Leo is a decent small-timer with a bad heart who worked his tail off so that Joe could go to law school. He knows his brother for what Joe is, a slick legal crook. Joe is in partnership with a tough gangster, Ben Tucker. They plan to break the banks of the small numbers operations, then move in and consolidate them under their own hand. They'll make millions. Joe realizes his brother will be ruined and tries to save him. Events begin to spin out of Joe's ability to control them. Joe finally finds a conscience, but only after people die.

There are a lot of elements that work in this movie. The screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and Ira Wolfert centers squarely on Joe's character and his dilemma. There's no let-up for Joe as his life of legal crime slides into real crime and tightens around him. The script is not exactly poetic, that would make it self-conscious, but it is tough, thoughtful and vivid. Polonsky's direction packs a lot of action into only 82 minutes. You need to pay attention, but it all makes sense. The movie looks gritty and bleak, from the crummy apartment where Leo runs his numbers operation to the empty New York streets at dawn to the sad but redemptive scene on the banks of the East River under the bridge.
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Format: DVD
This was one of John Garfield's final films before he was wrongfully "blacklisted" & it's easy to see why it was a "major influence" on director Martin Scorsese's crime dramas. Garfield plays a wise young Wall Street lawyer who works for a mob boss in order to make money "the easy way". However, when Garfield forces his older (& weaker) brother to join the crooked organization, problems quickly arise, & there's plenty of backstabbing & double-crossing involved! I'll admit the movie starts off a little slow, but Garfield's incredible acting had me hooked in no time. The photography in this gripping film noir is simply amazing, & although Garfield's the only "big star" the cast is very good. Unfortunately, the dvd has absolutely no special features, not even a trailer or cast bios. Oh well, this classic is so awesome that I'm satisfied with the dvd release. Maybe someday a special edition will be released. If you're a John Garfield or film noir fan than this is a definite must!
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By dantes on May 18 2004
Format: DVD
Force of Evil is a fine example of 1940s film noir. Polonsky's direction is crisp and the pacing perfect throughout. John Garfield turns in an above average performance as Joe Morse, a lawyer turned enabler for mob boss Ben Tucker, who is played by a not entirely convincing Roy Roberts.
Force's plot turns around the effort of Tucker and Joe Morse to monopolize "policy" (i.e., the numbers racket) in New York, and Morse's effort to keep his brother, who runs a small-time numbers bank, from being crushed in the process. It is the brother-to-brother aspect of the plot that provides the real juice for this noir, with Thomas Gomez turning in a riveting performance as Joe's brother, Leo Morse. The female lead, Doris Lowry, is played well by Beatrice Pearson, but, in the end, the character stands to serve only as a sounding board for Joe as he struggles with what he has done to himself, and to his brother.
Technically, it looks as though Artisan, a perennial purveyor of poor quality dvds, has finally gotten a release right. The transfer here is crisp with solid blacks and a serviceable grayscale. The only obvious flaw on the disc can be found in the chapter selections, where the stills for the last two scenes are reversed. The audio is quite acceptable, and the score for this work is incrementally more memorable than most. As for features on this dvd, there are none -- it's the film, and just the film. However, because Artisan must learn to walk before it runs, the absence of special features is forgivable in light of the effort Artisan has finally put into getting the film right.
All things considered, I recommend this dvd to those wondering what film noir is all about, and strongly recommend it to confirmed fans of the genre. If you know what noir is about, and are not a fan, this dvd is decidedly not for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 39 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Classic Garfield Noir May 18 2004
By dantes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Force of Evil is a fine example of 1940s film noir. Polonsky's direction is crisp and the pacing perfect throughout. John Garfield turns in an above average performance as Joe Morse, a lawyer turned enabler for mob boss Ben Tucker, who is played by a not entirely convincing Roy Roberts.
Force's plot turns around the effort of Tucker and Joe Morse to monopolize "policy" (i.e., the numbers racket) in New York, and Morse's effort to keep his brother, who runs a small-time numbers bank, from being crushed in the process. It is the brother-to-brother aspect of the plot that provides the real juice for this noir, with Thomas Gomez turning in a riveting performance as Joe's brother, Leo Morse. The female lead, Doris Lowry, is played well by Beatrice Pearson, but, in the end, the character stands to serve only as a sounding board for Joe as he struggles with what he has done to himself, and to his brother.
Technically, it looks as though Artisan, a perennial purveyor of poor quality dvds, has finally gotten a release right. The transfer here is crisp with solid blacks and a serviceable grayscale. The only obvious flaw on the disc can be found in the chapter selections, where the stills for the last two scenes are reversed. The audio is quite acceptable, and the score for this work is incrementally more memorable than most. As for features on this dvd, there are none -- it's the film, and just the film. However, because Artisan must learn to walk before it runs, the absence of special features is forgivable in light of the effort Artisan has finally put into getting the film right.
All things considered, I recommend this dvd to those wondering what film noir is all about, and strongly recommend it to confirmed fans of the genre. If you know what noir is about, and are not a fan, this dvd is decidedly not for you.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Look At Big City Corruption Aug. 3 2000
By Vincent Tesi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
Abrabham Polonsky's 1948 film Force of Evil is drenched with cynicism, corruption, greed, and love. Capturing the lure of noir, Force of Evil is a violent ballet which depicts the struggle of two brothers vieing for a rung on the urban ladder of existence. Joe Morse ( John Garfield) is a Wall Street lawyer with connections to an underworld kingpin. Morse is not content with being a straitlaced lawyer. Longing for a big score he becomes embroiled in a plan to drive the neighborhood number rackets out of business. Morse's greed is compromised by his protective instincts for his older brother Leo ( Thomas Gomez) who happens to operate one of the small policy games. Morse's morals and emotions are further stirred by Doris ( Beatrice Pearson) , Leo's secretary who innocently is scarred by the veil of crime. A dichotomy emerges as each brother's values about life come to the surface. Gomez is outstanding and upstages Garfield in a memorable performance. Although Leo runs a small numbers operation, he is a proud and honest man that remains loyal to his workers. He has provided poor neighborhood people with jobs and extra income and justifies the numbers racket as a simple five and dime game that might bring a windfall to a blue collar laborer. Conversely, Joe has it all- Wall Street law office, secretaries, and expensive suits. Yet Joe's success is partly due to his representation of his most influential client-mob boss Frank Tucker (Beau Bridges). Joe cannot break his ties with the mob and instead becomes more involved with them. Polonsky's location shooting in Manhattan adds the concrete testure and intimidation that shadows the film. In one scene, John Garfield's lone figure walking along a desolate Wall Street, with Trinity Church looming in the background creates a sense of urban alienation. Polonsky's camera work when Mr. Bower is shot is riveting. No film up to that time captured the brutality and urgency of mob gunmen at a hit scene as did Polonsky. That scene alone bridges some of the influences that Martin Scorsese speaks about in the film's prelude. Characters, scenes, and emotions from Mean Streets, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas are evident in Force Of Evil. Also Jeff Shannon's review incorrectly states that Leo Morse's secretary is played by Marie Windsor. The beautiful, buxom fixture of many noir films, Windsor played the role of Edna Tucker,the mob boss's wife. Upon release, Force of Evil was deemed a B crime flick. Recently, and rightfully so, Force of Evil has been re-evaluated as one of the most influential crime noirs in Amercian cinema.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Force Indeed May 19 2001
By Douglas Doepke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
A richly provocative movie that could serve as a bible of film making, "Force of Evil" succeeds on a number of planes , establishing itself not only as classic noir, but as a reflection of its period. Visually, the compositions are exciting, from the elegant decor gilding the halls of power to the closeup of horror that punctuates Bower's brutal murder, the rich complexity seldom falters. There are echoes here of Eisenstein, and one can't help noticing the presence of Robert Aldrich as Assistant Director, an apprenticeship that would payoff in the visually similar "Kiss Me Deadly", suggesting that Aldrich served for a time as trustee of the blacklisted Polonsky estate. The script occasionally rises to the level of poetic Blank Verse, and is expertly intoned by John Garfield, Beatrice Pearson, and Thomas Gomez in a sweatily memorable performance. Thematically, Marxist Polonsky and co-scripter Ira Wolfert take a shot at the Darwinist world of capital, where big fish survive by eating smaller fish or by muscling in on the catch (Ficco's strategy), while working class minnows offer up dimes and quarters in hopes of instant metamorphosis. It's an ugly world where corruption and greed reach from top to bottom. Since the Production Code of the time couldn't leave matters in an unregenerate state, an upbeat ending is tacked on that defies the logic of what has gone before. Nevertheless, the sharply-etched images remain, vividly - memorably. And it's ironic that any intended remake will have to consider that the biggest fish of all has taken over the numbers racket and renamed it - the State Lottery. I wonder if Polonsky was amused.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Up there with Out of the Past and Sweet Smell of Success Jan. 29 2001
By bruce horner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
One of the great post-war noir/crime movies. The bleak cityscapes of cinematographer George Barnes, spot-on performances by John Garfield and Thomas Gomez, spare score by David Raksin, the script, the direction---everything comes together into a film that's somehow both an archetypal genre piece and also a highly individual entertainment. One wonders what kind of career Abraham Polonsky would have had if it weren't for the blacklist. Good to see, though, that this once-neglected film has lately been getting some of the recognition it deserves. Fans of John Garfield should not miss one of his most indelible performances, but just as an example of high-quality Hollywood product from the late studio era, or as one of the great "New York" movies of the forties, this film is a must-see.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Film Noir Classic from blacklisted Abraham Polonsky Feb. 17 2001
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This 1949 Film Noir classic directed by Abraham Polonsky, later a victim of the Hollywood blacklist, is based on the dense and convoluted novel "Tucker's People." The script, by Polonsky and author Ira Wolfert, clearly shows the influence of James Joyce with its repetition and elaborate unpunctuated sentences. This rather unique dialogue gives the film a feel decidedly like other noted films in this genre. John Garfield plays lawyer Joe Morse, who wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation run by his boss. But his elder brother Leo, in a riveting performance by Thomas Gomez, is just a small-time operator who does not want to move up to the big leagues in which he will become a nobody. This makes "Force of Evil" a highly personal drama of the American underworld. Garfield has several excellent scenes with Beatrice Pearson as Doris Lowry, but it is Gomez's character, a large and grotesque figure whose violence is always on the edge who dominates the screen, ominously pointing out at one point, "All that Cain did was kill Abel." Marie Windsor as Edna, Leo's secretary, provides the sense of common decency that reminds Joe of when he had a conscience, although neither she nor anyone else can provide the moral anchor that will stop Joe from descending into Hell. The most memorable sequence in the film--with all due credit to George Barnes's stark cinematography--is the brutal murder of the bookkeeper Freddie Bauer (Howland Chamberlain) in the cellar, his glasses broken and his face covered in blood as his voice rises higher and higher in terror. By the time "Force of Evil" ends, with Garfield walking down flights of steps into an absolutely hopeless existence, the film has achieved an almost poetical potency.
The majority of the credit for this classic film clearly goes to Polonsky, who had written the screenplay for "Body and Soul" and provides clear evidence in his directing debut of great things to come. However, because he refused to name names to HUAC he was blacklisted. Uncredited as the director of the 1957 version of "Oedipus Rex," Polonsky did not direct/write another Hollywood film until "Tell Them Willie Boy is Here" in 1969. Polonsky is one of the lesser known names on the infamous blacklist, but "Force of Evil" strongly suggests there might not have been a greater loss in terms of the films that were never made than those he would have written and/or directed. This was a first class talent, cut down after his first giant step in the industry. Polonsky died from a heart attack in 1999. Final Note: "Force of Evil" was also released in the United States as "The Numbers Racket," "Tucker's People" and "The Story of Tucker's People."

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