A DANGEROUS PROFESSION
(director: Ted Tetzlaff; screenwriters: Warren B. Duff/Martin Rackin; cinematographer: Robert de Grasse; editor: Frederic Knudtson; cast: George Raft (Kane), Ella Raines (Lucy), Pat O’Brien (Farley), Bill Williams (Brackett), Jim Backus (Lt. Ferrone), Robert Gist (Collins), Betty Underwood (Elaine Storm), Roland Winters (McKay), David Wolfe (Dawson); Runtime: 79; RKO; 1949)
“An old-fashioned B-mystery film.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An old-fashioned B-mystery film. This routine programmer is much like the gangster films of the 1930s; it stars George Raft as Vince Kane an ex-cop who made $340 a month and now becomes a 20% partner with Pat O’Brien in the bail-bond business, a much more lucrative venture. The story is thin and full of credibility gaps, but Raft is good as the tough guy and O’Brien brings strength to his role as the poor kid who rises to become a successful businessman; Jim Backus is personable as the honest cop driven by a sense of justice. A mildly entertaining film results, that is fast-paced and taut, offering nothing disagreeable to turn you off. Recommended for film buffs and nostalgia freaks, otherwise it might not be pleasing for a modern audience; especially, those who didn’t grow up watching B&W films.
Lt. Ferrone (Backus) arrests Brackett (Williams), someone the police have been after for a year. He was wanted for pulling off a phony bond scheme and the possible murder of a cop. Brackett is given a high bail of $25,000 which he can’t afford, but his wife Lucy (Ella Raines) believes he is innocent and supports him, even though their marriage is on the rocks and she doesn’t love him any more. She goes to Kane to bail him out; he is someone she went out with when he was a cop, but never told him she was married or why she broke his heart by never seeing him again. Lucy only has $4,000 to put up, but a mystery lawyer (Wolfe) shows up. He is someone the Bracketts do not know, and he puts up the $12,000 bond. Kane baffles his partner Joe Farley (O’Brien), by taking the unnecessary risk of having the firm put up the remaining dough. Farley warns Kane not to mix business with pleasure, as he realizes that he’s doing it because he still loves Lucy.
Warning: spoiler to follow.
Brackett is murdered and Kane wants to find out who did it and why, so he plays cop again and starts questioning all of Brackett’s contacts until he gets to the bottom of what happened. The finale comes when Kane sets a trap for those involved in bumping off Brackett. Kane rides to the hills of Los Angeles with the killer of both Brackett and the cop, a superstitious man called Collins (Gist) and with the boss of the operation, McKay (Winters), the corrupt saloonkeeper who induced Brackett to work for him. Farley is also in the car at the request of McKay; Lt. Ferrone, with the help of Lucy, tails them. What results is the usual B-film heroics and a happy ending, the norm from those studio films of the 1930s and 1940s.
REVIEWED ON 1/23/2001 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/