Folks can go on and on about a visual style. The fact is, RAW DEAL exemplifies more than just an atmosphere. There's a catalyst for horrific violence driven by the desperation of the characters, their psychosis and their inability to escape from the choking shadows not only around them, but inside their heads. This movie, a cheap b-production with only one actor with stand-out talent, Claire Trevor, and a young powerful Raymond Burr, manages to seem authentic all the way through because it doesn't hold back on the violence or the threat of violence. There's a desperate prison escape, by hero O'Keefe, who's trying to get to Burr the crime boss, for whom he took a fall. Burr wants O'Keefe dead so he doesn't have to worry about O'Keefe ratting on him. O'Keefe uses two women he knows, his floozy Trevor and the good-girl counselor he really loves (she's cast in light and draws him like a moth) as cover. The movie then follows O'Keefe as he does a mini-FUGITIVE, like the television show, making love to his women and encountering a raging lunatic in the woods who doesn't have anything to do with him, but might get O'Keefe caught anyway by swarming police on the hunt for the maniac. In this rough noir, you get a suicide by cop, a guy fighting not to get his face impaled on a set of wall antlers, a flaming friccasee thrown in a drunk woman's face, a nasty deception and the good girl getting tortured, and a bloody final encounter between psycho Burr and O'Keefe, with plenty of face-ripping and falling from burning buildings. That's not standard stuff, and if you can get into babe Trevor with light shimmering on her lips as she tries to figure out how to save her thug O'Keefe from the police, Burr, and the younger angel ready to steal him away, then you will enjoy hell out of this film.
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Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.
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April 3, 2019