(director/producer: Roy Del Ruth; screenwriters: George Callahan/Charles Grayson; cinematographer: Bert Glennon; editor: Richard V. Heermance; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: George Raft (John Torno), Virginia Mayo (Carla North), Gene Lockhart (Warni Hazard), Barton Maclane (Strecker), Henry Morgan (Rocky), Raymond Burr (Nick Cherney), Arthur Franz (Jess Torno); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; United Artists; 1949)
“Roy Del Ruth directs a routine film noir infused with themes of revenge and religion.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Roy Del Ruth directs a routine film noir infused with themes of revenge and religion, as it veers more towards a regular crime drama except for photographic flashes that reveal the film’s dark undertones. The film’s classic noir shot is of the villainous Raymond Burr smoking and smiling as his frightened victim is being crushed to death while hiding under a trailer, as Burr has just kicked out the jack holding it up.
John Torno (George Raft) owns a growing Los Angeles freight company. He happily welcomes home his younger brother Jess (Arthur Franz), an army Roman Catholic chaplain returning from WW11. Nick Cherney (Raymond Burr) is a convicted embezzler just released from prison who was fired by John and maniacally schemes to get his revenge by killing Jess. When John visits his brother, he finds him struggling for his life in the hotel room with a bullet wound. When asked who is responsible Jess can only answer “In the Bible,” before passing away. John when he searches for the hotel room’s Gideon Bible, discovers that it is missing.
John dedicates himself to finding the killer and leaves his assistant Warni Hazard (Gene Lockhart) in charge of the business, while he searches for the Bible with the help of his girlfriend Carla North (Virginia Mayo). The Bible is found marked with the passage “Vengeance is mine … saith the Lord.” John eventually learns that Nick is the killer and locates him in the freight company garage. About to plug Nick, he remembers his brother’s last wishes and doesn’t pull the trigger. But I guess revenge was too sweet to pass up for the filmmaker, so Nick gets what’s coming to him anyway when he accidentally breaks a neon sign and gets electrocuted (the same punishment he would have gotten if convicted).
The film held my interest mainly because this was a perfect part for Raft and it was well-crafted.
REVIEWED ON 3/21/2004 GRADE: B-