Monday, August 07, 2017

Movie review - "A Dangerous Profession" (1949) **

The last of four movies George Raft made for RKO in the late 1940s and the only one to lose money. This starts off pretty good. There's an opening spiel from Jim Backus (who plays a cop) who explains all about what the bail bond industry is and it goes on too long; I thought this may have been put in after some re-cutting, which happened a lot at RKO when Howard Hughes owned it, but to be fair was a thing done at the time, when Hollywood was on a semi documentary kick eg T Men.

George Raft and Pat O'Brien run a bail bond business together - Raft is a former cop. He stakes money for Bill Williams, whose wife, Ella Raines, is loved by Raft. That's a good idea for a movie and the first half I went with this. Ted Tetzlaff directs with energy, it's set in that slinky world of night clubs, offices after hours, and police cells. Raft still hadn't learned how to act - he never did, his delivery of lines remains awkward - but he's still George Raft. I didn't mind Ella Raines, and Pat O'Brien, Williams and Backus are good.

But the film muffs its opportunities. O'Brien and Raft have this intriguing relationship - a bit distrustful, hostile - which is dramatically great... but they don't really do anything with it. Ditto Backus. Both Backus and O'Brien are set up as if they are going to be baddies, ditto Raines... but none of them are. And it's a happy ending.

There's a lot of exposition in the dialogue and I had trouble following a fair bit of the film. Also, why not use the who bail bond thing more - the world in which it's set? I mean it kind of it but at heart this is a stock investigating-a-murder-mystery story. It's a shame because there's good things about this - it moves at a steady crisp, it's fun to see Backus play a hard arse cop instead of a clown. They just didn't get the script right.

No comments: