Monday, January 15, 2007

 

Remember what you shouldn't have said

By Edward Copeland
After enduring Sorry, Haters, I was in desperate need of a black-and-white classic to get the taste out of my mouth and Abraham Polonsky's cult classic Force of Evil certainly fit the bill.


Sure, there are other films from that period that are better, but watching the always-interesting John Garfield and listening to Polonsky and Ira Wolfert's poetic script (written in iambic pentameter of all things), certainly made me feel better after the garbage I'd watched prior to it.

The plot of Force of Evil is somewhat complicated: Joe Morse (Garfield) is an attorney for some crooks deep in the numbers racket who have concocted an elaborate scheme to fix one day's winning numbers in order to break some banks and go legit. The problem: the scheme will bankrupt Joe's brother Leo (Thomas Gomez).

The use of verse seems appropriate as the story takes on somewhat Shakespearean proportions. Garfield turns in a great performance as he always seemed to, but Gomez was the standout for me along with Howland Chamberlain as a particularly nervous player in the scheme. The cinematography by George Barnes also proves quite stunning.

To delve much further into the story, would give away the developments, but needless to say Force of Evil provided me with the tonic I needed (with a glorious New York setting to boot) to take the stench of Sorry, Haters away.

Of course, there always will be a bit of sadness associated with Force of Evil when you recall Garfield's early death and the disruption and destruction of Polonsky's career because of the blacklist.


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