Force of Evil
Screenwriter Abraham Polonsky was hailed as a promising new director with this intense crime drama about a cynical New York lawyer who gets in too deep with the numbers racket. Adapting Ira Wolfert’s sprawling novel Tucker’s People, Polonsky and Wolfert co-wrote a screenplay that hones the book down to its darkest elements. John Garfield stars as a partner in a tony law firm that straddles both sides of the law and aims for a massive payday with a lottery scam. The only obstacle in his way: his own older brother (played with fevered intensity by Thomas Gomez).
Polonsky’s devastating, fast-paced noir has a pronounced social consciousness—capitalism never seemed so ruthless—not to mention a ferocious fraternal struggle worthy of Shakespeare (“All Cain did to Abel was murder him,” quips Gomez). Shot in and around Wall Street and climaxing under the George Washington Bridge on the Upper West Side, Force of Evil’s impeccable photography is done by veteran cinematographer George Barnes (Rebecca, Spellbound), and the film also features a femme-fatale turn by Marie “Bedroom Eyes” Windsor (later of Kubrick’s The Killing). A major influence on Martin Scorsese, Force of Evil proved to be Polonsky’s sole directorial effort before he was blacklisted in 1951. He would not helm another picture for twenty years.
Restored 35mm print.
Bing Theater | Included with admission to On the Waterfront. | $5 for this film only | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online