Federal agent Rigby, in Central America to trace stolen plane engines, falls for the gorgeous wife of the chief suspect.Federal agent Rigby, in Central America to trace stolen plane engines, falls for the gorgeous wife of the chief suspect.Federal agent Rigby, in Central America to trace stolen plane engines, falls for the gorgeous wife of the chief suspect.
Am I ever glad I did! I found perhaps the best movie of 1949! Once again I ask the question, "Why have I never heard of this movie?"
Perhaps because Ava Gardner went on to star in bigger films. But I certainly never saw her better (with the possible exception of the far later "Night of the Iguana").
I would not call this a film noir. There are several necessary film noir elements that are missing from "The Bribe," in my opinion. I'd call it more of a cop story.
However, that's a lot like saying "Casablanca" is a bar story. Or a war story. Similar to that film, the crime plot of "The Bribe" is just a backdrop for the love that transforms and overturns Taylor's, Gardner's and Hodiak's lives.
They say the course of true love never did run smooth. But Bogie and Bergman had a picnic in the park compared to what Taylor and Gardner must suffer. Both eventually fall so deeply in love that they're willing to destroy their lives for each other, yet neither trusts the other, and both are certain they have been betrayed. Used.
Ava Gardner is absolutely captivating in her second major role. Although Taylor does not manage to evoke the pathos Bogart does, Gardner absolutely sizzles! She is on screen during a large portion of the film, and every moment is riveting. Her acting has genuine depth as well, far outdoing Bergman's somewhat cold, rather simplistic naiveté. The girl is really torn up inside!
The other great delight in the film is Charles Laughton. He plays the sleaziest, lowest-down weasel that just about ever graced the pages of fiction, yet there were times that he reminded me more of Sophocles's blind seer Tiresias. And in spite of how unwashed and repulsive he is, in spite of how uncaringly he treats everyone he comes in contact with, in spite of his contemptible, almost laughable cowardice, he somehow still manages to come off as a genuinely lovable character.
The movie starts out kind of dumb. I thought with the voice-over narration that it was going to be another "Lady In The Lake," or maybe "Murder, My Sweet." But once the movie gets going, after half an hour or so, it just gets better and better. The plot becomes intense and intriguing. When I thought it was about to end, there were four more plot twists to go!
Don't let this one slip by you next time!
- Jan 15, 2010