Sunday, September 12, 2010

Desperate (1947)

Decent, fun noir about a truck heist gone wrong that renders the innocent driver a runaway patsy. The driver is a spitting image of innocence, and does everything he can to stop a group of gangsters from hijacking the cargo of his truck once he is aware of the heist. The police get involved, sending one of them to jail, who just so happens to be the brother of the leader of this mob. He's played by Raymond Burr, as a big Burry badass who uses his chubby cheeks and eyes to stare down people in a very Paul Sorvino kinda way; his heavy is one of the highlights of the film. Burr demands that the driver turn himself in for all of the crimes his brother's accused of, but he manages to escape and leave town with his wife. He gets framed for the robbery, and spends the rest of the film on the run with the police and Burr tracking him down. The dialogue, lighting, and costuming are done in a very strong, high-noir style; the dialogue in particular is a delight, with plenty of great gangster witticisms scattered throughout. But the protagonist, a goody two-shoes who never once is even moderately swayed by temptation, is not a typical noir lead. He is motivated primarily out of concern for his wife and a desire for justice, but ends up being just as scared and desperate (*gasp*!) as a common criminal due to unfortunate circumstances. His unflappable good nature makes him a relatively uninteresting protagonist, but there is plenty of humor in just how unbelievably Boy Scouty he manages to act.

Recommended for noir buffs. This isn't one of the more interesting or original noirs I've ever seen, but it is a strong entry in the genre, and has a lively, evocative style.

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