Warner Brothers Studios attempts to recapture that Casablanca feeling by once again giving theater goers international intrigue, the pairing of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre opposite Humphr……. scratch that, opposite George Raft donning the trench coat and doing his best to help lead the allied forces to victory.
From the outset we see that Greenstreet is a Nazi agent abroad. When a failed assassination attempt goes awry, he brings the assassin to task. Cut to George Raft who has time for a patented coin flip as he boards a train heading to Turkey. Raft makes quick work of finding a seat in the same car as attractive Osa Massen. When she is spotted by a what appears to be a menacing agent, she uses a classic sob story to lure Raft into taking possession of an envelope to get through security at the next stop. Is Raft just a traveling businessman being…
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From RKO comes this George Raft pot boiler featuring Claire Trevor along for the mystery involving murder, deceit, a ghost ship and Hoagy Carmichael.
Emerging from a fog bank Captain George Raft’s ship comes across an abandoned freighter. Scenes of a struggle are littered about and in the captain’s room Raft picks up a smashed picture of an elderly man and himself. So the mystery begins.
We’re in for a fast moving tale when Raft’s ship makes port. The abandoned freighter was captained by his Father. They both work for a shipping line run by weak minded Marvin Miller who has a high maintenance wife played by the lovely Trevor. She of course has a past with our leading man who knows she’s nothing but bad news.
Raft wants his pound of flesh and finds out that a stowaway was aboard ship. It’s Signe Hasso and it’s her that is going to…
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Paramount Studios set up a first rate production with Henry Hathaway directing this seafaring adventure with heroic Gary Cooper in the lead role and George Raft playing his loyal friend and fellow sailor. The film is told in flashback form from a courtroom where Cooper is on trial for murder and the destruction of the ship “William Brown” which is captained by Harry Carey.
The opening of the film is quite harrowing considering the era that the film was released. Coop and Raft are on a slave ship where the hold is full of would be slaves in transit who are savagely beaten only to turn the tables on their captor. From there our 2 leads are captured themselves and wrongly tortured till George Zucco appears to enlist Cooper into British Intelligence to help put a stop to the slave trade. Along the way we get a little romance with…
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This Henry Hathaway directed effort for 20th Century Fox threw me a curveball that proved to be a welcome one at that. Released on DVD though the Fox made on demand division, I made the assumption that Hathaway plus George Raft equaled action. What I got was a Barbary Coast musical that sees Raft as the owner of a swank nightclub on the wrong side of town who falls for the wealthy Joan Bennett who currently resides on Snob Hill. All this while his headliner at the club, Viviane Blaine pines for Raft while singing her heart out on stage.
I must say that every dollar spent on this technicolor effort appears on screen from the opening moment forward. San Francisco is a party town and the camera pans the streets of the Barbary Coast before settling into Raft’s nightclub where Miss Blaine takes to the stage singing On San Francisco…
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It’s an old plot with a leading actor who had by this time played the same role for years but why should that bother me or my enjoyment of a film that sees a couple of great character players turning up for the fun. Then there’s a sexy leading lady and heck, even a plot twist I didn’t see coming in this RKO programmer. One that allows the director, Edwin L. Marin, a chance at a couple of neat camera tricks that stand out from the usual gangland fare of the era.
It’s George Raft once again taking on the role of the “good” gangland character. He’s a bookie with beat detective William Bendix for a pal and Harry Morgan as another bookie. Morgan’s had a bad leg since childhood (polio?) and Raft’s been his protector ever since. Lastly, Raft has a beautiful “dish” on his arm played by Marilyn…
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