7.3/10
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63 user 55 critic

Force of Evil (1948)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | March 1949 (USA)
An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.

Director:

Abraham Polonsky

Writers:

Abraham Polonsky (screenplay), Ira Wolfert (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Garfield ... Joe Morse
Thomas Gomez ... Leo Morse
Marie Windsor ... Edna Tucker
Howland Chamberlain ... Freddie Bauer (as Howland Chamberlin)
Roy Roberts ... Ben Tucker
Paul Fix ... Bill Ficco
Stanley Prager ... Wally
Barry Kelley ... Detective Egan
Paul McVey ... Hobe Wheelock
Beatrice Pearson ... Doris Lowry
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Storyline

Lawyer Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into one big powerful operation. But his elder brother Leo is one of these small-time operators who wants to stay that way, preferring not to deal with the gangsters who dominate the big-time. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

John Garfield puts his Body and Soul into Force of Evil.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tucker's People See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$948,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,165,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1994. See more »

Goofs

When Joe's office is broken into, the cover to the safe is left open. When Joe goes into his office, the cover is closed. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Morse: [referring to Joe] Don't have anything to do with him, Leo. You're a businessman.
Leo Morse: Yes. I've been a businessman all my life. And honest - I don't know what a business is.
Sylvia Morse: Well, you had a garage... you had a real estate business.
Leo Morse: A lot you know. Real estate business... living from mortgage to mortgage... stealing credit like a thief. And the garage - that was a business! Three cents overcharge on every gallon of gas: two cents for the chauffeur and a penny for me. Penny for one thief, two cents ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

All existing copies of the film are of the version that was cut by 10 minutes in order to fit into a double bill. See more »


Soundtracks

String Quartet opus 131, no. 14: Ist Movement
(uncredited)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

beyond film noir...a classic and pessimistic view of humannature
2 August 2000 | by drmalitySee all my reviews

Superficially, "Force of Evil" can be considered a film noir and gangster movie. But it is so much deeper than that. The very bleak message I got from the film is that even decent people must submit to corruption to survive.

The character of Leo, superbly played by Thomas Gomez, is inherently honest and noble but he must live and work in the naturally shady numbers racket. He knows that he will be eventually crushed. This knowledge makes Leo one of the most bitter and tragic characters in film...a decent man whose life is dominated by futility.

The protagonist of the film, portrayed by John Garfield, is Leo's brother. He has ridden his job as a sleazy mob lawyer to a life of fame and ease. He has everything Leo doesn't. Yet despite his blustery banter, he,too,is uneasy with his position. He knows Leo is headed for disaster and pulls all the strings he can to protect him, even though Leo reacts to him with contempt. Their relationship is doomed by the corrupt methods both use to survive. Garfield's character finds redemption of a sort by the film's end but not before inevitable tragedy has struck.

There are many more levels to this complex film and discussion of them all could fill many pages. Above all, it is a beautiful movie,expertly directed with tremendous black and white imagery. The dialogue combines snappy patter with almost poetic sensibility. And the performances of all concerned are top notch. This is truly a treasure of cinematic art. Be prepared to think deeply when you watch it


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