XL Popcorn – Force of Evil

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 928/1009Title: Force of Evil
Director: Abraham Polonsky
Year: 1948
Country: USA

If you have never heard of writer-director Abraham Polonsky then you are not the only one. By now I am pretty used to making my way through this list and seeing the names of directors on the screen that, unless they had a side mention in You Must Remember This, mean nothing to me. In the case of Polonsky, I am guessing this is a name I missed since he was one of the casualties of the Hollywood blacklist era – his career being destroyed shortly after the release of this film.

Force of Evil is a pretty standard and well made gangster noir of this age. The central story is one of a big gangster taking his chance to squash and take over all his smaller competitors in a gambling racket – with two brothers having differing roles in this consolidation. One owns a small time numbers racket under threat, the other (knowing the storm coming) tries to get his brother the best deal possible. As with all things noir and Hays Code, no one comes out of this unscathed and many don’t come out alive.

This is very much an interesting film for it’s time given how anti-capitalist and pro-working together it is. It would have been all the evidence that the senate committee needed to destroy anyone involved in it for being a Communist sympathiser. It’s well made, even if it didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping with such a good title for a noir. It feels like one of those films that would stand up to future watches as it would be good to focus more on the biblical allusions being made about the relationship as well as a better initial knowledge about what a ‘numbers racket’ actually means.

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