Force of Evil (1948)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


Force of Evil (1948) Poster

An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.


7.3/10
5,612

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1 win.

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2 August 2000 | drmality
beyond film noir...a classic and pessimistic view of humannature
Superficially, "Force of Evil" can be considered a film noir and gangster movie. But it is so much deeper than that. The very bleak message I got from the film is that even decent people must submit to corruption to survive.

The character of Leo, superbly played by Thomas Gomez, is inherently honest and noble but he must live and work in the naturally shady numbers racket. He knows that he will be eventually crushed. This knowledge makes Leo one of the most bitter and tragic characters in film...a decent man whose life is dominated by futility.

The protagonist of the film, portrayed by John Garfield, is Leo's brother. He has ridden his job as a sleazy mob lawyer to a life of fame and ease. He has everything Leo doesn't. Yet despite his blustery banter, he,too,is uneasy with his position. He knows Leo is headed for disaster and pulls all the strings he can to protect him, even though Leo reacts to him with contempt. Their relationship is doomed by the corrupt methods both use to survive. Garfield's character finds redemption of a sort by the film's end but not before inevitable tragedy has struck.

There are many more levels to this complex film and discussion of them all could fill many pages. Above all, it is a beautiful movie,expertly directed with tremendous black and white imagery. The dialogue combines snappy patter with almost poetic sensibility. And the performances of all concerned are top notch. This is truly a treasure of cinematic art. Be prepared to think deeply when you watch it

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