Force of Evil (1948) | Bluray release
Dir.: Abraham Polonsky; Cast: John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, Beatrice Pearson, Marie Windsor, Roy Roberts, Howland Chamberlain; USA 1948, 78’
Director/co-writer Abraham Polonsky’s stylish noir thriller is a critique of capitalism and shows how corruption affects nearly everyone in America who strives for financial gain.
DoP George Barnes (Rebecca, Spellbound), who shot 144 features between 1918 and his death in 1953, excels in lighting the different locations in diffuse shades of black and grey: only the exterior shots in New York have some sort of clear light, the rest is all mysterious shadows made even dramatic by David Ruksin’s commanding orchestral score. The highlight, the gunfight in the dark, is symbolic of the merciless pursuit of money that drives the characters forward.
Both, director Abraham Polonsky (1910-1999) and the film’s star, John Garfield (1913-1952) were victims of the HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee) in the late 1940s. Garfield’s Hollywood career was over and he died, only 39, from a heart attack. Polonsky, who shot a feature in 1957 un-credited, at least made a come-back in 1969 with Tell Them,Willie Boy is Here, before bowing out with Romance of a Horse Thief, a war movie set in Russia in 1905. Had he not been blacklisted, Polonsky may have gone on to have a more prodigious film career. AS
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