Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Enforcer


Today this would be an episode of “Law & Order” or “CSI.” Not a particularly good one, either. It’s hard to swallow, at first, that these cops and DAs would be utterly baffled by words like “contract” and “hit.” I suppose all slang terms had to be new and mysterious sometime. And you have to keep reminding yourself how unsophisticated audiences were in those days about things like police procedure. Most of what they knew was wrong, fed to them by B movies like this and cheap tabloids. And I know we’ve become used to a much higher level of security in things like, for instance, transporting prisoners who are in danger of a mob “hit.” But in the opening scenes we are told that Rico, who is turning yellow, has been the subject of three assassination attempts (“contracts,” in that mysterious lingo of the bad guys!), we see him surrounded by cops … and then bedded down for the night on a cot in the DAs office with a single guard who is nodding off and the window wide open. Can anybody say sniper? Ka-POW! “Ah, it’s nothin’, just a flesh wound!” says the wounded cop, valiantly holding his bloodless shoulder and in no pain at all. The story abounds in crap like this. I know, it was a different age … but this was two years after White Heat, and had none of the psychotic edginess of that one. I figured out the mystery 15 minutes before Bogart did. Acting is bad, except for Zero Mostel. Much of the dialogue consists of somebody grabbing somebody else by the lapels. But there were some moments, particularly in the photography department. Still, there many better examples of film noir; try one of them instead of this.