Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Raw Deal

1948, US, directed by Anthony Mann

Although not quite as compressed as 99 River Street this is another against-the-clock plotline, with a convict escaping and trying to make his way south for a payoff and a boat to the tropics. As you might expect from Anthony Mann and John Alton, it looks terrific -- moody and exceptionally atmospheric, with some wonderful compositions (a scene in the prison early on is especially good, as is the later sequence in a kind of crim-friendly guesthouse). Dennis O'Keefe is on roughly the John Payne level in the lead role -- less bland, perhaps, but certainly not a strong actor and the supporting players provide the real interest. Claire Trevor was deep in her glorious late-1940s run of bad girls and she does a terrific voice-over here, suggesting that this story is at least as much hers, certainly true in terms of the not-unexpected downbeat ending. John Ireland is also good as the hands-dirty tough, while Raymond Burr looms (quite literally since he's often shot from below) in the background, dispensing casual sadism.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States