With I'll Get You, a low-budget British spy thriller made in 1952, George Raft has tired eyes, a middle-aged face, and he looks so stolid you'd think he'd need a double just to walk briskly down the street. As always, his flat, tough line delivery makes "I love you" come across with the same lack of emotion as "Drop that gat." So what made him a big-time star? I think at least on one level it was because he seemed without pretension...he seemed exactly what he appeared to be, not an "actor" but a guy making good at a job. It didn't hurt that he was lucky enough to land some first-rate movies in the late Thirties and early Forties. The image and reputation from those years stayed with him through the decline that set in during the middle Forties and just kept accelerating. He was stuck making some awful pictures when producers thought he could still sell enough tickets to help a quickie, low-budget movie turn a profit.
I like George Raft. For some reason I enjoy him especially in many of these B movies from the late Forties and early Fifties. You have to turn off your film appreciation switch and just sit back with your remote control at hand. Some of my favorites that leave critics aghast include Background to Danger, Johnny Angel, Mr Ace, Nocturne, Christmas Eve and even Outpost in Morocco. Raft, wearing Arab pantaloons, had courage to star in that one. Unfortunately, that leaves a number of his starring movies without many redeeming characteristics. I'll Get You is one of those. It's a dull spy movie without pacing or tension. Key scientists are being kidnapped and taken behind the Iron Curtain. One was an American. Another was grabbed in London. British Intelligence is on the case. Steve Rossi (Raft) shows up from America as a top aircraft engineer, but he disappears within minutes of his aircraft landing. He starts asking about someone named Michael Grand while British immigration is trying to find out where Rossi went. Along the way Rossi winds up looking down the wrong end of a revolver held by Joan Miller (Sally Gray), who turns out to be...wait, it also turns out that Steve is...wait...I hate spoilers. Better see the movie. It will take 78 minutes, but will seem longer.
At least you'll be able to meet Sally Gray, if you haven't already. This was her last movie. She was a good-looking woman and a competent actor who had the good fortune in the Forties to co-star in two fine British movies, Green for Danger - Criterion Collection and They Made Me a Fugitive. Both are worth having. She died in 2006, the widow of Baron Mereworth, who also was the fourth Lord Oranmore and Browne. Sounds a lot better than the long-term contract RKO offered her in 1949 if she'd only move to Hollywood.