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  • "The Bribe" is one of the forties film noir entries, and I love it! Top stars of the era include Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Vincent Price. It is a story of an honest cop, Rigby played with remarkable insight, by Robert Taylor, who falls in love with a suspect (Ava Gardner), and can't make up his mind on if she is guilty or innocent. John Hodiak is the husband, who is a former fly boy turned crook. Charles Laughton is at his sinister best as the "pie shaped man" who is hired by Vincent Price to pay off Rigby. Laughton dogs Rigby, knowing that he is in love with Gardner, till he caves in and decides to take a bribe to save his love. As in many film noir, only Taylor's last name is used, we never know Rigby's first name, interesting. Taylor is very convincing as a man torn between love and honor. He is so conflicted, that you feel sorry for him, wishing that Ava would just run away with him before he turns crook himself. She drugs him and makes sure he can't stop the crooks, but he recovers, and confronts her, not realizing the trouble she is in herself. In the end, love and honor conquer all. There is a spectacular fireworks ending, that is reminiscent of "Ride the Pink Horse." All in all the love scenes are sincere, probably because Taylor and Gardner were having an affair at the time of filming, despite the fact that Taylor was very married to Barbara Stanwyck. Quintessential film noir.
  • This was quite an enjoyable film experience. Robert Taylor plays a federal agent flying down South to look into a smuggling problem. Whilst in the tropical Carlita, Taylor begins to look into the suspects he has been briefed about: a married couple that work at a night club. Sultry seductress Ava Gardner and husband John Hodiak play the couple. Director Robert Z. Leonard does a fine job with atmosphere in this film noir classic of greed, retribution, and forbidden love. The settings reek with a kind of sleazy realism that you rarely see in films of this type. Leonard also shoots his scenes with an intensity and trust in his performers which is also refreshing. And why wouldn't he trust his performers? He has some of the best. Taylor gives the best performance I ever saw come out of him. He is actually believable in his role as a man torn with a love he should not have and a decision to make regarding his personal integrity. Gardner is also at her best giving a truly interesting portrayal as a woman also torn apart by like things. But the film really belongs to two "character" actors if you will. Screen legends Charles Laughton and Vincent Price, playing men with dubious natures, give great performances and bring this film up notches. Price is the real heavy and oozes suave, despicable charm. His climatic scene is one of the best film finales of all-time for my money. It is Charles Laughton; however, as a round bounder of sorts tressed in a grubby white suit with unkempt hair seeming to be always around when you don't want him that really steals the show. Laughton gives one of those performances that makes you glued to his every word and action. He utters his lines with careful execution and deliberate pauses. He takes the mundane and turns it into something more like every time he sits down to take his shoes off and rub his bad feet. Many highlights come to mind with this film: the aforementioned finale, Laughton rolling languidly through his scenes chewing whatever scenery is available, Laughton and Price sharing some scenes together(great to see these two in the same scene), Ava Gardner dancing, and just above-average camera work and crisp dialog in that great film noir tradition. A classic!
  • The Bribe (1949)

    A loaded cast and crew make this an interesting draw (only the director Robert Leonard is little known to me, though he has two Best Director nominations). But really: Ava Gardner in a dramatic noir, with Robert Taylor the male lead (including a very noir voiceover to start). Throw in Charles Laughton and Vincent Price in smaller roles, and Joseph Ruttenberg doing cinematography and Miklos Rozsa the music. And it starts great, in a lonely room in Central America, rain pouring down the windows at night. And then the flashbacks begin. Maybe all this makes me a sucker. I expected a lot even with the clichés pouring on. But we have a formula noir here with all the elements exaggerated and none of them missed--the woman is even a nightclub singer, and wait for the drug in the drink later on. If you are willing to enjoy the form rather than the specifics of the movie, you have your film. It's almost great, and might someday be considered a classic simply because it makes so clear the elements of that form (the noir-alienated male, femme fatale, flashbacks, dramatic lighting, crime and treachery, short clipped phrases). It's so good at all this, it became the model for the comic send-up, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." But in a way this isn't fair, because the movie does work on its own, despite its lack of originality. It grows and gets better as you go, and the consistency of the production and the solidity of the plot make it worth seeing. Gardner is not great in the way some leading noir females are, but she has her sculptural poise and is still young as an actress. Taylor has sort of the same problem of not quite rising to the needs of the role, but he is fine. The fact that the two of them are not "amazing" is one of the holdbacks of the film--lots of noirs have formula plots but have such great acting it doesn't matter a bit. So Laughton, then, rising to the occasion, is really amazing. I've heard his performance called campy, but I don't think so, not for the genre. It's subtle, and if he's a character, he's not a caricature. Price, also good, has a someone limited role. Until the end. The final ten minutes is a film wonder. If you can't watch the whole thing for some reason, you can still be thrilled by the ending. The drama, the lighting, the photography, the pace and editing, it's all unparalleled.
  • "The Bribe" is a somewhat slow noir drama starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, John Hodiak, and Vincent Price. With a cast like that, nothing is all bad. Though the story drags in spots and the bad guys are somewhat obvious, it still makes for good viewing. Taylor is Rigby, a fed investigating war surplus violations involving the sale of airplane motors in a place called Carlotta in South America. The suspects have been narrowed down to two Americans, Tug Hintten (Hodiak) and his wife, Elizabeth, a singer (Gardner). Once in Carlotta, Rigby meets J.J. Bealer, portrayed by Charles Laughton, and Carwood (Vincent Price). They're worth watching, too, though Rigby becomes instantly distracted by Elizabeth. Their love story develops overnight, which might seem strange, but it's Ava at her most gorgeous and Taylor at his most ruggedly handsome. You can hardly blame either one of them. The questions for Rigby are: Where are the motors being hidden, who's the head guy, who's involved...and how involved is Elizabeth? The movie, with the exception of the finale, is fairly routine stuff. Laughton and Price have the best roles. Laughton is fabulous as a slovenly loser whose feet hurt, and Price is excellent. Everyone else is good, including Hodiak, his career in major nosedive as he appears in a supporting role, though a showy one as a drunk with a weak heart. The big action takes place at the finale, which is exciting and visually marvelous. We could have used a little more of that type of thing throughout the film.
  • reader415 January 2010
    After reading the mostly lukewarm reviews on IMDb, I decided to give this movie a try. I like Vincent Price and Charles Laughton, so I figured it would be worth a look.

    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!
  • whpratt118 June 2006
    If you like a full cast of great veteran actors, this B&W film is perfect to entertain you from beginning to the very end. Robert Taylor,(Rigby) is a Government Agent assigned to investigate the misuse of Government surplus from World War II and mostly airplane engines that were being smuggled out of Central America and sold to other countries. Rigby is given some information to lead him in the right direction to find out just who is involved in this operation. Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Hintten, is married to John Hodiak,(Tug Hintten) and Rigby gets very involved with this couple and especially Tug's wife. There is a creepy, dirty fat looking guy, played by Charles Laughton,(J.J. Bealer) who follows Rigby like his own shadow. Vincent Price,(Carwood) met Rigby on the airplane going to Central America and met him once again for a fishing trip to catch a swordfish and Carwood gets confused and throws the boat's engine into reverse and causes all kinds of problems. If you like veteran actors giving outstanding performances, this is the film for you.
  • Robert Taylor is an FBI man looking into a racket south of the border of black marketeers stealing and selling war surplus material, in this case airplane motors.

    The story takes him to Central America where he meets up with a debonair sportsman, Vincent Price, a rather seedy character with sore and sweaty feet, Charles Laughton and a husband and wife John Hodiak and Ava Gardner stranded in the tropics.

    They're all suspects, but Taylor is quite ready to forget his job with Ava Gardner around. He wouldn't be the first guy to think with his hormones where she's concerned. That's what I'm talking about when I say more than one kind of bribe.

    The story is pretty slow moving though. Taylor seems to have the evidence he needs or where to get it. But the plot does drag on. The film seems to rely on the attractiveness of the leads to keep the audience interested.

    There are two good scenes, one where Taylor almost becomes a shark's lunch and the climax where the chief villain meets a pyrotechnical end.

    If you like the cast involved, The Bribe is probably time well spent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite an all-star cast and having a well-respected director, a multi-Oscar-winning cinematographer and the legendary Miklos Rosza on board, this crime drama didn't win much favour with either the public or the critics at the time of its initial release. This was probably because its inconsistent pacing makes it lose impetus at certain points. In other respects, however, it's very entertaining with an intriguing plot, a collection of shady characters and a spectacular finale.

    Based on a story by Frederick Nebel, it focuses on the moral dilemma that an honourable guy faces when the temptations of a beautiful woman and a financial bribe make him question his own integrity which he'd always previously taken for granted.

    Rigby (Robert Taylor) is a U.S. Federal Agent who's sent to the island of Carlota off the coast of Central America to investigate a racket involving the theft of military surplus equipment and the subsequent smuggling of aircraft motors to South America. The perpetrators are known to be making millions of dollars in profits and initially, the only known suspects are ex-World War 11 pilot, Tug Hintten (John Hodiak) and his wife Elizabeth (Ava Gardner). On arrival at Los Trancos (a popular fishing town), Rigby makes his way to a café called "Pedro's" where he wastes no time in getting to know Elizabeth who works there as a singer. The couple's friendship quickly develops into a romance and surprisingly, the often inebriated Tug doesn't seem too concerned.

    Rigby becomes curious about a dishevelled-looking man with bad feet who seems to be everywhere he goes and later comes to suspect that J.J. Bealer (Charles Laughton), has some connection with a mine owner called Carwood (Vincent Price) who Rigby had first met on the plane when he was flying down to Carlota. Hoping to find some clues about Carwood's possible involvement in the smuggling racket, Rigby goes on a fishing trip with him and is lucky to escape with his life after falling into the sea after Carwood causes the boat to jerk forward suddenly. Rigby only survives due to the bravery of the boatman Emilio Gomez (Tito Renaldo) who's tragically killed in the act of rescuing him.

    Following this incident, Rigby visits Emilio's father who tells him that Carwood is the mastermind of the racket and this causes Rigby to consider what his next move should be. His duty is to report his findings to his superiors but because Bealer's offered him a substantial bribe and he's unsure whether Elizabeth is guilty of any crimes, his immediate inclination is to take the money and use it to escape the island with the woman he loves. The surprising events that follow then suddenly change everything.

    The movie's tropical setting brilliantly reflects the heat of the passion that drives Rigby into being prepared to abandon his integrity and generates a claustrophobic atmosphere which is beautifully complemented by Joseph Ruttenberg's expressionistic cinematography. Ruttenberg's work also plays a major part in the success of the well-filmed shoot-out at a firework display which provides the film with its exciting climax. A top class cast also provides a number of memorable performances with Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner making their steamy romance look very convincing and Charles Laughton and Vincent Price both excellent as the two main villains of the piece. The script also sparkles in places with lines like "I never knew a crooked road could look so straight" (Rigby) and "They get the chair twice as hot for bumping off a Fed" (Bealer).
  • This is a fasinating example of film noir elements grafted on to an ordenary crime thriller, there is also romance between Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner, but thats a weaker part of the story. Taylor is to wooden in his role as a federal agent, Robert Mitchum would have been more suitable for this kind of film. But there are som nice noir caracters in the supporting roles, and director Robert Z Leonard contrasts effectivly the down at the heel feeling, with the surface glitter of the big town criminals who move trough it, giving the film a glossy look that at the same time is filled with an atmosphere of moral corruption. Ava Gardner is very beatiful in this early role, and she makes the most of it, Charles Laughton is very good as the sly henchman, oily and treacherous, he creats a fasinating character of a small role, a sort of unshaven Quasimodo, who sweats a lot and have trouble with sour feets. He is both human, weak and repulsive at the same time. Vincent Price is the suave villain, his playboy sportsman is both naive and evil but more icy than most of his roles of this kind, and he gives a fine performance. John Hodiak is a broken down ex-pilot, with alcoholic problems, a small role but well played. All these supporting players give the film a definite noir feeling, as well as Joseph Ruttenbergs moody graphics and Miklos Rozas score, also telling the story in flashback with Taylor narrating while recovering from beeing druged, gives the story a feeling of defeat and betrayal. The settings are dirty and seedy and the climate steamy, and the usual glossy high MGM production values, gives the footage a feeling of tropical heat. The story is a little slow moving, but the final shot-out between Taylor and villain Price during a carnival, is stylish and intersting as the element of death and joy are effectivley juxtaposed.
  • The reflective voice-over narration was a staple of film noir, but here it boasts the conceit of Robert Taylor addressing it to himself in the second person ("You..."). That curious choice informs the first half of The Bribe, told in flashback; midway, we catch up to the present and the droning ceases. Starting as a routine foreign-intrigue drama -- something about surplus airplane motors, but who cares -- set in an island off Central America called Carlota (or sometimes Carlotta; the film can't quite decide), the film boasts a top-notch cast: Taylor, Ava Gardner, John Hodiak, Vincent Price and Charles Laughton, who could be either the most actorly of hams or the hammiest of actors but here opts for the latter. Most of the way through it's not bad, but in its second half the tone darkens noticeably, when director Leonard decides to treat us to some stylistic flourishes. The over-the-top, Wellsian-Hitchcockian climax is (literally) pyrotechnic, and actually stands as one of the more memorable sound-and-light shows in the whole noir cycle.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Rigby, a federal agent, is asked to go South to Carlota, a small island off Central America, where a suspected smuggler has been operating. His mission is to get to know the operation and trap the man responsible for doing the illegal activity. On the flight down, he meets a friendly fellow American, Carwood, who is on his way to South America. Rigby makes believe he is a big game fisherman and his new friend tells him he will stop on the way back.

    On Carlota, Rigby meets Tug Hinten, a drunkard, who is his main suspect, and his wife, Elizabeth, a singer, at one of the island's watering holes. The attraction between Rigby and Elizabeth is apparent. She is a disillusioned woman in a bad marriage. Rigby is intrigued by one man that seems to show up everywhere, Bealer. What the fed man doesn't know is that Bealer has been working with Carwood and knows a lot about the newly arrived tourist.

    When Carwood arrives in Carlota, he wants to renew his acquaintance with Rigby. What Rigby doesn't know is that his new friend has something else in mind. Carwood proves he has come to take care of Rigby by trying to kill the agent during a fishing expedition. Bealer, an obese man with bad feet, knows much more about the criminal activities going on in the island. By the time Rigby realizes Carwood is not who he pretends to be, it's too late for Hinten. The final confrontation is between Carwood and Rigby during carnival where both men have the final battle among the impressive fireworks display.

    This MGM 1949 film was clearly a vehicle for its two stars, the gorgeous Ava Gardner and the handsome Robert Taylor. As directed by Robert Z. Leonard, "The Bribe" is not one of his most memorable pictures, but what it lacks in Marguerite Roberts' screenplay, is out weighed by some amazing performances. The last sequence is worth to stick with the movie until the end.

    Charles Laughton, who plays J.J. Bealer, makes an amazing appearance as the ambitious man that literally steals the show from its stars. Vincent Price is also at his best with his own take of Carwood, the criminal mind behind all the criminal activity in Carlota. Ava Gardner graces the picture with her beauty. Robert Taylor is effective as Rigby.

    The cinematographer, Joseph Ruttenberg, did a fine job with crisp images, especially the ones involving the finale. Miklos Rosza score contributes to create the right atmosphere.
  • Film Noir? (kinda).. Slow paced. Plot a bit unbelievable, but lots of plots are. Taylor talks too much. I really liked Charles Laughton's portrayal, felt disgust and sympathy for his character at the same time, I think it was a gem of a performance. Ava is beautiful, as usual. Price is sinister, as usual. Hodiak is competent, as usual. Final fireworks are very impressive. If you have and hour and a half to spare, watch it and you'll only be wasting about 30 minutes.
  • Charles Laughton steals the show as usual, here as an old smuggler who has seen better days and suffers from sore feet, as he tries to manoeuvre a smuggling racket on an island off Central America, where he works with Vincent Price in a particularly disgusting character. Ava Gardner is there though and more splendid than ever in her amazing beauty, married to a drunkard that does not get any better but goes from bad to worse, as he is all mixed up in the racket. Enter Robert Taylor as a police sent from America to investigate and put an end to the smuggling, but he naturally gets involved with Ava Gardner. There are some striking scenes here of adventures at sea, while the finale offers you a wild fiesta with fireworks. There is everything here except Hemingway. The film is a bit overloaded and gets rather stagnant at times, but on the whole it's a great noir offering all the best of the genre.
  • camille-0542411 August 2019
    The 1949 film The Bribe has left comments that this film is slow in developing. In my opinion "what's the rush." Some films need to savor and watch the acting of a fine and notable cast. Charles Laughton (pie man) is great to watch him in many scenes. The other cast members as well do their parts convincingly. So for you film buffs out there sit back and enjoy the actors; we will not see the likes of again.
  • MartinTeller3 January 2012
    A federal agent tries to bust a stolen airplane motor ring in Central America, but ends up falling for the wife of one of the prime suspects. I've enjoyed Robert Taylor in other pictures (notably HIGH WALL) but here he's merely satisfactory, likable but too stiff. Ava Gardner fares slightly better, a little dull but with an appealing sultriness. As usual, it's the bad guys with the plum roles: Vincent Price and especially Charles Laughton with yet another memorable turn. Laughton is fast becoming one of my favorite actors, consistently the best thing about whatever he appears in. The main problem here is pacing. The first three-quarters are very slow, giving the appearance of doling out information and building the Taylor/Gardner relationship but not actually do much of either. One brief action scene breaks up the tedium, other than that it's rather uneventful until the final 25-30 minutes. Things do heat up nicely then, however, culminating in an amazing fireworks-illuminated climax. Laughton and the ending elevate this one enough to make it worthwhile.
  • When I first learned of "The Bribe," I was very impressed with the cast. What could go wrong with a film featuring the talents of such actors as Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Vincent Price? Lots.

    The film starts out with a flawed premise. A federal agent named Rigby (Taylor) is sent by his superior (Hoyt) to an island off the coast of Central America where war surplus aircraft engines are being illegally acquired, refurbished, and sold on the black market. The problem with this concept arises when it is stated that the engines were acquired as scrap. If I understood this part correctly, then why would the government care? There is absolutely no hint that they are being provided to a hostile foreign power so would it be proper to endanger the life of an agent for such a mission?

    Okay, most viewers would be willing to overlook such triflings. However, the film has much more tangible problems. First, approximately the first half of it is told in flashback with near-constant narrative by Robert Taylor. Rather than let the man act, the screenwriter and director had him verbalize his every thought. The result is very chatty and abrasive.

    Finally, the film commits the worst crime any motion picture can commit. It is intensely boring. There is little action and the entire film is driven by endless dialogue. Although I must admit that the climax is good, the viewer must wade through the entire film to reach this point. For me, the payoff wasn't worth it.

    It really pains me to provide a negative review for a film that employs some of my favorite actors. However, I believe that most viewers would want to dodge this one and check out the filmographies of the various performers for much better material. Die hard fans of film noir or of individual cast members may nevertheless want to see this, but if you're one of these, don't claim you haven't been warned.
  • Had not seen this until a day or so on TCM. The scene introducing her is pure old move magic. I'll let you see it first before I describe it. For 1949 the studio took full advantage of her incredible beauty. Wearing several two piece outfits displaying her very thin flat belly. Ava's fans who adore her gorgeous bad girl films will be heavily on board for this one.
  • The sultry, steamy tropics rather than the rain soaked American city streets are interestingly substituted here as MGM decides to oneupmanship RKO at their own game of Film-Noir.

    It works, sort of, as the layers of a horizontal Hell are draped across most of the scenes and give it that eerie, sticky, web of entrapment expression. It is quite impressive high-contrast work that has a veneer of a fatalistic frame of impending encroachment.

    The second person narration is used, although first person would have worked better, because this has an awkward feel and distracts from the proceedings. The actors are all in top form and the ending is one of the most unusual displays of how to use black and white photography to aggrandize the presentation of brightly lit darkness.
  • To begin with, I had always been intrigued by this Noir in view of the compact but strong cast: Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner (their first of 2 teamings, the other being the Western RIDE, VAQUERO! {1953}), Charles Laughton (his second film with Taylor after the 1942 WWII naval drama, based on an idea by Luis Bunuel{!}, STAND BY FOR ACTION), Vincent Price and John Hodiak.

    Frankly, being an MGM production, I was afraid it would be merely glossy and with the emphasis squarely focused on the central romance (given its dynamite star combo, this was inevitable). However, the result was visually more arresting (moodily-lit against an overpowering South American backdrop by Joseph Ruttenberg) and, in view of the satisfying participation of its villainous pair (favorites Laughton and Price), more personally gratifying than I had anticipated! It is unfortunate, then, that all this is done in the service of a rather weak storyline: federal agent Taylor tracks down a gang of scrap-metal smugglers(!), with whom down-on-their luck couple Gardner (making ends meet as a chanteuse) and Hodiak (drowning his sorrows in booze) are also involved – in fact, the hero had been specifically asked to tail them in the hope that they will lead him to the mysterious ring-leaders!

    Price starts out innocuously enough but, after accepting Taylor's invitation to a fishing-boat outing, things take a tragic turn: through Price's machinations (feigning ineptness at the controls of the vessel), the protagonist ends up in the water and, when the local guide jumps in to save him (Taylor is harnessed to his fishing-rod and is being pulled away from the boat by the large swordfish he has managed to hook!), he is attacked and killed by a shark; incidentally, both this scene and the storm-beset hotel setting seem to be evoking two superior Humphrey Bogart vehicles, namely TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) and KEY LARGO (1948) respectively. Laughton has a more ambivalent – and showy – part as a would-be drifter, continuously complaining of sore feet, but whom Taylor (who supplies typical grave narration throughout) instantly suspects of being 'in on it'; indeed, his powers of intimidation are such that he has Gardner drug the hero, which gives the latter the wrong notion that she was really one of them. However, it transpires that Price is the real force behind the rogues' gallery and he even contrives to murder Hodiak himself!; still, Laughton's greed allows him no scruples and he eventually 'sells' his associate to the cop!

    The climax, too, is an unsung gem as Price flees out of the hotel – with Taylor in hot pursuit – and lands smack in the middle of an elaborate fireworks display (being the highlight of a local fiesta) whose noise and smoke obfuscates the action while heightening the suspense of the situation, thus rendering the denouement a memorable one. In hindsight, Taylor's genre work (also comprising JOHNNY EAGER {1941}, Vincente Minnelli's UNDERCURRENT {1946}, HIGH WALL {1947}, the as-yet-unwatched CONSPIRATOR {1949}, ROGUE COP {1954}, TIP ON A DEAD JOCKEY {1957}, Nicholas Ray's remarkable PARTY GIRL {1958} and HOUSE OF THE SEVEN HAWKS {1959}) seems to me to have been greatly undervalued by Noir buffs.
  • This one really works, because the performances from the stars are so strong. Robert Z. Leonard was the director, and he had worked before with three of the male leads, Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton, and John Hodiak, so it was an old pals' act. Vincent Price is also in the cast, being creepy as usual. Into this mix steps the amazing Ava Gardner, aged 27, slim as a withy and already a veteran of numerous films, such as as the powerful noir, WHISTLESTOP (1946, see my review). Everything is very intense, and frankly I believe that apart from ADVISE AND CONSENT (1962) I never saw a better performance by Charles Laughton. This is one of those confusing stories where it is not possible to be certain who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, not unsimilar to much of that strange thing we live sometimes called Life. Robert Taylor, with his calm and commanding voice and his authoritative presence, is an undercover cop, but will he compromise his principles for love and accept a bribe? Or indeed will he be killed if he fails to accept the bribe? Is Ava Gardner a wicked siren or an innocent victim? Is John Hodiak a scheming conniver or a pathetic dying man with a heart condition? Is Charles Laughton as stupid as he looks, or is he as clever as a fox? And if he is clever, then whose side is he on? Or is there any side for him but his own? All of these ambiguities add vastly to the suspense. The film is set in a fictional island off the coast of Central America called Carlota. In fact, the only real Carlota Island is in the Philippines. But never mind, this is a movie. The War is over and a lot of military scrap is being sold, but mixed amongst the scrap are a lot of military airplane engines which are being stolen and sold at high prices in a scam by criminals. Taylor is sent from the USA to investigate, though he has no powers of arrest in this foreign location. He is told that Hodiak and his wife Gardner are suspects. Investigating Ava Gardner is something anybody would like to do, and Taylor succumbs immediately to her charms, from which in any case no man was safe. (Those lingering looks, and lines such as 'Why don't you kiss me?', make temptation overpowering.) Well, it is all good, indeed very good, Hollywood stuff, and entertaining aplenty. And trying to figure out who the real criminals are, and wondering about Ava Gardner (in between admiring her) keeps you engaged all the way.
  • You'd think that, with this cast, you'd have a snazzy little noir with plenty of snap. Well, the snap comes and goes...and, frankly, even the sizzling Ava Gardner seems a bit wilted and pedestrian here. John Hodiak has an absolutely thankless role as her husband--you don't even get to see him do any of the contraband activities--and Robert Taylor wants to do right, but he's--well, meh.

    I think the producers paired Laughton and the always-enjoyable Vincent Price (who here is evil incarnate, but, again, not given much to do except one really crucial thing) as a surrogate Peter Lorre/Sydney Greenstreet pairing. They don't sparkle like the latter, but Laughton on his own is just fascinating. He totally relishes the role and his every move and expression is worth watching, whether it's being too clever for his own good or cringing with cowardice. And oy, his feet, his feet.

    It's schleppy, and the end leaves still too many questions, especially about Taylor's character. But for the price of admission, if you don't expect too much, it's worth a look, especially, again, Laughton, whose performance is an acting class in and of itself. Plus fireworks!
  • Federal agent Rigby (Robert Taylor) is sent to South America to stop a group smuggling aircraft engines, but falls for an alluring singer (Ava Gardner), who just happens to be the wife of one of the main suspects.

    After reading not very positive reviews of this, I went into The Bribe with low expectations. It's got a great cast though: Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price and John Hodiak.

    I was pleasantly surprised. Being an MGM film, the set design, costumes and cinematography were top notch. The overwrought script and silly narration bog the film down a bit.

    Taylor is his usual stolid self, Gardner was quite appealing (and beautiful as ever), while Price was good as the main baddie. However, the best actor is easily Charles Laughton. He gives an excellent performance as a henchman constantly complaining about his bad feet.

    There's some good action sequences, especially the finale (directed by Vincente Minnelli!), involving a chase through a fireworks display. Good fun.
  • Ava Gardner: For me, the most beautiful woman in the history of motion pictures. Charles Laughton: For me, the greatest character actor who has ever lived. And Robert Taylor, for me, not the greatest of all lead actors after WWII, but pretty good at the kinds of roles he got, like this one. Plus, he made chain smoking look very cool on the big screen, before he died at 57 from lung cancer (of course he did!), after having smoked 3-5 packs a day for 40+ years. Also contains a nice squirmy turn by Vincent Price, long before his career as a character actor would be completely devoured by bloody, cheap horror flicks.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoiler Warning end mentioned! **A compilation summary in my words of highlights & best thats revealed in the reviews & story summaries: Usual glossy high MGM production values. Federal agent Rigby (Taylor), in Central America island to trace stolen airplane engines, falls for the gorgeous wife of his chief suspect. Wife, sultry singer (Gardner) tries to tempt this federal agent from the straight-and-narrow. Taylor seams uncomfortable playing law man who almost sacrifices all for sultry singer Gardner. All in all the love scenes are sincere, probably due to Taylor and Gardner having an affair at the time of the filming, although Taylor was married to Barbara Stanwyck. The final shot-out between Taylor and villain Vincent Price during a carnival, is stylish, interesting, has the elements of death and joy which are effectively juxtaposed and it is both exciting & visually marvelous. The last sequence is worthy of sticking with the movie until it's end.

    **In pursuit of the stolen aircraft engines on a Central American island, federal undercover agent Rigby (Taylor) meets his chief suspect Hintten (Hodiak) and suspects wife Elizabeth (Gardner), who's a sultry café singer; and is watched by Bealer (Laughton), a "pie-shaped man" with sore feet. Rigby (Taylor) knows he's on the right track when Bealer (Laughton) offers him money to leave fictional island of Carlotta. When Rigby (Taylor) and Elizabeth (Gardner) are drawn to each other, the gang realizes there's more than one kind of bribe. Everybody sweats. Laughton is fabulous as the slovenly loser whose feet hurt, and Price is excellent, as the head villain. singer; and is being watched by Bealer (Laughton), the "pie-shaped man" with sore feet. Rigby (Taylor) finds he is on right track when Bealer (Laughton) offers him money to leave the fictional island of Carlotta. When Rigby (Taylor) & Elizabeth (Gardner) draw close to each other, the gang realizes there are more than kinds of bribes than money. All sweat in the tropical heat. Laughton is fabulous movie stealer as the slovenly loser whose feet are always hurting, and Price is also excellent, as the head villain.
  • edwagreen17 June 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Film noir with Robert Taylor as the Federal Agent sent to Central America to investigate an airplane engine smuggling ring making plenty of money.

    As usual, Ava Gardner proves with her soft voice that she really couldn't act.

    Charles Laughton, as always, steals the film. In a marvelous supporting role, he plays the cunning, assistant to the usually ruthless Vincent Price. Laughton would be the equivalent of Snee of Peter Pan fame.

    Of course, Taylor falls for Gardner, even while he was sent in to investigate her and husband John Hodiak.

    Laughton informs Gardner who Taylor really is and things really deteriorate. Price gets what he deserves at film's end and with Hodiak conveniently killed off by Price, Taylor and embrace Gardner.
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