Thursday, October 17, 2013

Movies RAW DEAL reviewed by Alan Fish

Raw Deal – 1948, Anthony Mann

by Allan Fish
the first in a series of six pieces on the classics of Anthony Mann…a one off to accompany Sam’s piece on Mann.
(USA 1948 78m) DVD1
A whole tidy little pile of rocks
p  Edward Small  d  Anthony Mann  w  Leopold Atlas, John C.Higgins  story  Arnold B.Armstrong, Audrey Ashley  ph  John Alton  ed  Alfred de Gaetano  m  Paul Sawtell art  Edward L.Ilou 
Dennis O’Keefe (Joe Sullivan), Claire Trevor (Pat Cameron), Marsha Hunt (Ann Martin), Raymond Burr (Rick Coyle), John Ireland (Fantail), Curt Conway (Spider), Chili Williams (Marcy), Regis Toomey (Capt.Fields), Harry Tyler (Oscar), Whit Bissell (murderer),
I can’t remember who coined the term ‘termite art’ to describe the ‘B’ movie classics churned out on the cheap in Hollywood in the forties.  Edgar G.Ulmer was probably the most famous exponent, but Anthony Mann deserves a mention, too.  Easy to forget that, prior to his reinvention of the western as a psychological landscape as much as a physical, Mann also stamped his mark on the noir world.  Desperate, T-Men, Side Street, even an uncredited stint on He Walked by Night.  All decent films, yet lacking that authentic grit; Raw Deal was rather a film like the identities faked by Itzhak Stern and co. in Schindler’s List, they were too new, they needed tearing, crunching up, having coffee spilt on them to add that sense of having been places. Raw Deal had it in spades, not on the surface where you could easily spot it, but in the hidden corners, the searchlights at the prison, the smell of the flambé Burr’s suited villain tosses into some poor girl’s face, the musky smell in the room where two characters fight it out in the dark. 
            Joe Sullivan is a typical noir sort of hero, born with a toy eight ball hovering over his pram, through orphanages and scrapes, one after the other, and then being told to take the rap for kingpin Rick Coyle.  He thinks Rick’s on the level when he sends his beloved Pat to tell him of a break out.  Pat only thinks of Joe’s escape.  Rick, however, is rolling the dice, assuming that Joe will get killed in the escape attempt.  Needless to say he doesn’t, or else bang goes our film, and as Joe gets closer to his assignation with Rick, so he gets further into a mire in which struggling is futile and death is written. 
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