171 - Force Of Evil (1948)

A corrupt lawyer has a conflict of interests with his brother over a betting scandal.

Joe Morse (John Garfield) is lawyer to powerful mob boss Ben Tucker (Roy Roberts) who plans to put smaller numbers rackets out of business by fixing the number drawn. This is set to make Tucker, and in turn Morse a heap of money.

Unfortunately, Morse's brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) is one such banker controlling one of the smaller numbers rackets set to be put out of business. Joe tries to warn him, but Leo doesn't want anything to do with the mob, leaving Joe to make a very difficult decision.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Since starting to watch Empire's 5-star rated films, I have a new found love for film noir. It has a tendency to deliver compelling storylines which keep me guessing on the outcome right until the end. In this respect Force of Evil is exactly what you'd expect from the genre. There are many scenes - and one in particular - that were very unexpected as the storyline snaked to the conclusion.

One thing that did puzzle me throughout the film though is that the title had relatively little to do with the film's content. It wouldn't look out of place in a contemporary horror, and in fact the only connection I can make to the title is that the actions of the mob (obviously) affect a lot of people's lives.

Overall, Force of Evil wasn't an overly explosive noir. Compared to my previous experiences it felt lacking in depth - although this might be because I have been spoilt by watching the outstanding Double Indemnity. Still, it is watchable thanks to the internal conflict of John Garfield's character.