And now, we’re up for another noir, the 1948 movie Raw Deal, starring Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt.
Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) is in prison, taking the rap for his boss Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr), but he is crying out for freedom. So, Rick arranges things for him to escape. However, Rick is NOT doing this out of the goodness of his heart, as he hopes the police will kill Joe as he tries to escape. Joe’s girlfriend, Pat Regan (Claire Trevor), is waiting outside the prison with the getaway car, and Joe’s escape is more successful than Rick had planned. The police do manage to hit the car with a few bullets, which stops them from getting away cleanly, and they stop at the apartment of Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt), who had been trying to help Joe’s lawyer at the trial. They take her hostage and take off in her car, making their way toward a previously arranged meeting spot with Rick. However, Rick has sent Fantail (John Ireland) in his place to kill Joe. Fantail fails, though, when Ann picks up a gun and shoots him (although he is only wounded). Joe has fallen for Ann (which has made Pat jealous), but he tries to send her back to San Francisco on her own. Fantail finds Ann and brings her to Rick. Rick calls Joe, but only talks to Pat, telling her Joe must come to him or Ann will die. The question is, can Pat tell Joe or will she let Ann die?
Raw Deal was originally made for Eagle-Lion Studios, re-teaming director Anthony Mann with his cinematographer John Alton and star Dennis O’Keefe after the success of the previous year’s T-Men (don’t ask, I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s currently on my short list of movies to watch in the near future, when I can get that far). I can’t deny the success of the director and cinematographer, as it does heighten the effect of the movie. While no doubt the censors were involved in what they could (or could not do), their creativity in working with that makes this movie wonderful. I know the scene where Raymond Burr’s angry Rick Coyle tosses a flaming brandy onto his girlfriend after she accidentally spills her drink on him is made more horrifying mainly because he throws it at the camera. We don’t see the actual “damage,” but our imaginations can certainly run wild with it. The camera angles just do a great job of making his character just that much more threatening. And of course, over it all, we have Claire Trevor’s Pat essentially narrating the story (in a rare instance of a woman doing so for the genre), as we get her viewpoint on the story. Honestly, I have to admit I enjoyed this movie, and it is one that I would quite readily recommend!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix, either as a limited special edition or as part of a triple feature John Alton Collection with T-Men and He Walked By Night. The last I knew, the special edition, with all its extras, was running low on copies available, so if you want it, be prepared to buy right away, otherwise, the bare-bones triple feature release is still a good way to see it! And with a typically pristine transfer from Classicflix, with only a handful of specks on the image here and there, it’s an easily recommended release!
Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes
My Rating: 8/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Murder, My Sweet (1944) – Claire Trevor – Marjorie Morningstar (1958)
Raymond Burr – Great Day In The Morning (1956)