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Force of Evil [Blu-ray]

Blu-ray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.79
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By Big Bill TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
My copy is VHS. This is a gritty crime drama in Glorious Black & White that is classified as film noir. Of interest is the starring role
by John Garfield , who was to some extent driven out of Hollywood favor by the McCarthy Commie witch hunt trials. While they
seemed to have nothing on him he was nevertheless blacklisted because he would not answer questions about associates. This
put the brakes on a successful career , and he died of heart problems , reportedly after staying up all night and then playing a
brisk set of tennis. He is credited with influencing James Dean and Marlon Brando. Johnny is a lawyer fronting for the mob
which is running a numbers racket , which was once widely played , before the governments of North America took over the
business. I always wonder , Did the mob return a higher percentage to participants than government lotteries?! When Johnnys brother becomes a victim of mob "consolidation" he switches sides and eventually he kills the crime bosses responsible for his brothers death in a showdown. With the Queen of B movies Marie Windsor as the wife of a crime boss , but she has the hots for
Johnny. She is sultry and exotic as usual , but only appears in about three scenes. A fine little movie that runs 80 mins and
is listed under Republic Pictures but also has a MGM logo in the opening.
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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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By Dave
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Garfield Noir May 18 2004
By dantes
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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