Force of Evil

2 ratings (2 Epinions reviews)
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Force of Evil (1948)

Jul 4, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:entertaining if familiar gangster film

Cons:cast, characters

"Force of Evil" an intense crime drama that is considered by some to be a 'film noir' classic. While the movie is quite watchable, the characters and their actions lack credibility and warmth. The film is also hurt by a lack of comic relief.

John Garfield stars as a lawyer for a cold-blooded gangster (Roy Roberts), who runs an illegal gambling syndicate. Garfield is also involved in the criminal activities. He hears about a scheme that could wipe out his brother (Thomas Gomez), who heads a small-time gambling operation. Garfield's attempts to protect and promote the unwilling Gomez leads to much grief. Not just for the brothers themselves, but also Gomez' nervous accountant (Howland Chamberlain).

One of the subplots involves a romance between Garfield and a goody-goody secretary (Beatrice Pearson). Garfield seems to have no interest in seducing her. He wants her as a friend, but all the while tries to morally corrupt her.

Many of the players in "Force of Evil" perform actions against their better judgement. Gomez repeatedly tells Garfield that he won't do what Garfield asks of him, then does it anyway. Chamberlain's character is nearly a mirror of Gomez, harried and despondent, refusing then agreeing. Innocent and ethical Pearson is fascinated with bad-boy Garfield. She gently rebukes his character, but seems to be hoping that he will do something that will add interest to her dull life.

Garfield himself is torn between multiple loyalties: his client, ill-gotten riches and power, and his brother. Garfield consistently chooses to protect his brother, risking his career, his fortune and even his life. This seems at odds with his grasping character, especially since his brother shuns him and they have had little contact for years. It is as if Garfield's midlife crisis is one of character. He hopes to find it in Gomez and Pearson, by association rather than by adopting their ethics.

Roberts and his cronies are stereotypical gangsters. They are ruthless and clever, but lacking the humor or style found in gangster roles portrayed by Cagney, Bogart or Edward G. Robinson. Garfield has more life than his associates, but his character was broader in a supporting role in "Gentleman's Agreement".

Sometimes I think that 'noir' is just a French word that means 'insufficient lighting'. (55/100)



Recommend this product? No


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