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Force Of Evil Review

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Ambitious and self-centred Mob lawyer Joe Morse (Garfield) plans to consolidate New York’s gambling rackets by systematically bankrupting the smaller operators with a big fix. But conflicted loyalties arise when he has to contend with his kindly older bro

★★★★★

Force Of Evil is justly recognised today as one of the very best examples of film noir, and is enthusiastically cited by one M. Scorsese as a key influence on the likes of GoodFellas; indeed, Scorsese championed the film, eventually paying for its restoration. Abraham Polonsky’s gripping — and surprisingly fierce — fable against capitalism and social Darwinism is a tale of crime and punishment that is both brutal and poetic, anchored by a terrifically cynical performance from John Garfield who, aided by Polonsky’s cracking script, powerfully evokes the effects of guilt.

Hugely atmospheric and technically impressive, this was a masterful debut by the passionately Marxist Polonsky, who, while his career was sadly soon cut short by the Hollywood Blacklist, made an indelible impression with this tour de force of eloquent rage.

A shining example of everything Hollywood falling into place, and a masterpiece of cinema.