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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Raw Deal (1948)

When a convict (Dennis O'Keefe) breaks out of jail with the help of his girlfriend (Claire Trevor), they hightail it to San Francisco where the escapee expects a $50,000 payoff from the mobster (Raymond Burr) that he took the fall for. Along the way, they take a pretty social worker (Marsha Hunt) as a hostage but things become uncomfortable when Trevor realizes O'Keeefe is falling for Hunt. An early noir effort by Anthony Mann, the film is unusual in several ways. The voice over is by Trevor's moll rather than the hero and one can't help but be touched by her one man woman who realizes she's losing her man and can't do anything to stop it. It's rather disheartening because we see what O'Keefe doesn't ... that Trevor is the better woman. Burr's villain is a bit of a coward and even his henchman (John Ireland) is derisive of him. There's also a scene that presages the famous coffee in the face of the heroine scene in THE BIG HEAT by five years but Burr tosses a flaming dessert to his mistress (Chili Williams) instead. John Alton's (ELMER GANTRY) expert B&W lensing practically defines film noir cinematography with its shadows, reflective surfaces and fog. The only element that seems off is Paul Sawtell's synthesizer laced score which more often than not suggests a science fiction movie rather than a noir. Also in the cast: Regis Toomey and Whit Bissell.

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