Force of Evil

Force of Evil

DVD - 2012
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A lawyer whose connection to a ruthless racketeer has nearly destroyed his sense of morality. His participation in a rigged numbers racket could prove disastrous for his high-strung brother whose small-time policy bank stands to go broke when the rigged numbers pay off.
Publisher: [United States] : Olive Films, [2012]
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (78 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in.

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7duffy Mar 03, 2015

Well done film noir. John Garfield is at the top of his game, supported by excellent performances, notably Thomas Gomez as his character's brother. Easy to think you can control your own corruption, but instead it controls you.

n
Nursebob
Dec 05, 2014

Bullets, dames, and double crosses abound when crooked lawyer John Garfield’s loyalties are torn between helping his small-time racketeer brother remain solvent, appeasing his syndicate boss, and wooing the quintessential girl next door. Filled with shadows and despair, Abraham Polonsky’s stock noir thriller boasts wonderfully gritty New York locations and the kind of tough-as-nails dialogue that has become synonymous with the genre. The use of light and camera angles is especially noteworthy as cold concrete buildings loom over empty streets and a city bridge yawns towards a distant shore. Although the plot occasionally runs in circles, watching the seasoned cast rip into each other is almost worth a second viewing. Almost.

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 25, 2014

Classic film noir from 1948 about the gangster-controlled numbers rackets starring John Garfield as a slick, compromised lawyer. Added to the National Film Registry in 1994, this film was a big influence on Martin Scorsese. Director Abraham Polonsky was a victim of the blacklist and wouldn't make another film for decades. Suck it Joe McCarthy.

m
ManMachine
Jul 28, 2014

For starters, I found Force Of Evil (that's FOE, for short) to be something of a novelty, in that (being a story about racketeering/gangsterism, circa 1949), it contained almost no violence to speak of. Yep. That was certainly an unexpected and unusual twist to this particular tale.

FOE starred one of my favourite actors of that era, John Garfield, who convincingly played Joe Morse, the ambitious and very greedy Wall Street lawyer.

Morse eagerly joins forces with NYC mob boss, Ben Tucker, who's got big plans to completely bankrupt the city's small-time numbers racket and grab all of the profits and business for himself, and his pals.

As fate would have it, Joe's older brother, Leo (one of the many small-time racketeers) is certain to take a big fall once Tucker's merger goes into action.

Complete with your standard double-crosses (and a cornball romance, thrown in for good measure), FOE is a fairly solid 78 minutes of prime movie-making from post-WW2 Hollywood.

Even though I have no real complaints about Garfield's no-nonsense portrayal of Joe Morse, the crooked lawyer with a heart of gold, I honestly think that this role would've been better played by Humphrey Bogart.

This film abounds with plenty of impressive, b&w camera-work, all, of course, set within the hubbub of New York City.

voisjoe1 May 21, 2014

This is a Faustian tale that takes place in 1940’s America, but has some universal truths. Should one sell one’s soul to the devil to get ahead in life? John Garfield is the one pondering the selling and he is trying to convince is older brother to join him (he secretly knows that if the brother doesn’t join him, the brother’s life will be ruined). Look for the scenes with shadows shaped like prison bars as he ponders his actions. This is great as a film noir, but the director’s and actor’s lives are a great tale also. Director Abraham Polonsky was blacklisted right after making this film because he refused to name names before HUAC. He was not allowed to make another film under his name for 21 years upon which date he directed “Tell Them Willie Boy is Here” starring Robert Redford and Charles Bronson (1969). John Garfield was continually harassed by HUAC until he died at a young age in 1952 of a heart attack the day before he was supposed to testify once again before HUAC. These were shameful losses to Hollywood’s ability to tell great stories about middle-class Americans.

btmslt May 23, 2013

A nicely acted but obvious thriller.

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Monolith
Mar 01, 2013

I thought John Garfield was in his element and very effective as the dirty mob shyster/womanizer/scumbag. Thomas Gomez was excellent as his good hearted brother, with high blood pressure, as well. A young(er) Paul Fix of "The Rifleman" as the gangster 'Ficco' caught me off guard.

j
Janice21383
Jun 27, 2011

Uh oh, someone's been watching The Battleship Potemkin. In this film, which equates organized crime with organized capitalism, the Odessa Steps sequence from TBS is recreated in miniature, twice. Garfield gives an uncharacteristically stiff performance as the heel who forgets his roots. Things loosen up in the last 20 minutes, when SPOILER his brother is kidnapped, and all hell breaks loose.

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m
Monolith
Mar 01, 2013

Leo Morse: "...I am sensible. I am calm. I'll give you my answer calmly and sensibly, my final answer. My final answer is finally no. The answer is no! Absolutely and finally no! FINALLY AND POSITIVELY NO! NO-NO-NO!! N - O!!"

m
Monolith
Mar 01, 2013

Leo Morse: "...Black sheep like to make everybody else look black."

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btmslt May 23, 2013

btmslt thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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