9 February 2011 | secondtake
Bogart and Burks (the photographer) are first rate...the rest tags along
The Enforcer (1951)
Humphrey Bogart makes this film, and if you like him, you'll love this. If you don't know or care about Bogart, you'll see what he's all about here. The rest of the film is good, very good, but it's standard fare. And it has a few moments of just incredulous stuff, like toward the beginning when they are protecting a key witness and they ignore the obvious problem of having the witness sit in front of a window across from a hotel. Naturally, a sniper takes a shot at him. I won't say whether he succeeds, but it sets you up to be suspicious of the director and writer from there on.
But there's Bogie, the relentless investigator. He needs to put a terrible crime boss in the chair, and sets off to find proof against him, running up against mobsters who seem to be one step ahead, covering up or wiping out (with bullets) anything or anyone who might know something. It's good stuff, but not great stuff. Director Bretaigne Windust had done some Broadway and a couple of films, but he doesn't pull this together. I'm surprised a Bogart film at the top of his career was handled by Windust, but at this time Bogart had been battling the Hollywood Communist lists and blacklists, and he got his independent Santana production company going, and I'm guessing that he was working against a lot of the Hollywood mainstream at this point (as was John Huston, who used Bogart in "African Queen" the next year).
But this is Bogart at his best, really, just after "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "In a Lonely Place." The photography is first rate (Robert Burks was by this point doing a whole bunch of Hitchcock films, too). In all, a decent, well made if unexceptional film.