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Saturday, February 20, 2016

A BULLET FOR JOEY (1955)

Shortly before Cecil B. DeMille granted Edward G. Robinson unofficial pardon from Hollywood’s ‘Gray List’ with a role in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS/’56, Eddie G. was wrapping up a half-decade of Pinko Purgatory with two underwhelming B pics for Lewis Allen. The second one, ILLEGAL/’55, with Eddie as mob lawyer, limps along, but still bests this lame effort. George Raft co-stars as an exiled, nearly immobile crime boss who sneaks into Canada, with his old gang right behind him, to grab an atomic ‘device’ & scientist. Robinson, sedate but inexorable as the inspector on his trail, manages to add some class, say his idiotic lines and not simply walk thru the script’s inanities. No small accomplishment when even Audrey Totter, stalwart noir sleaze-pot seems embalmed. Yet, what an apt little story for Eddie G. to take on! Rooting out a Commie atomic spy ring when, back in the real world, his career was under a cloud from Hollywood's Commie Witch Hunt. Irony surely not lost on the great actor.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Just before Eddie got tagged by the Hollywood ultra-Right as a dangerous ‘Premature-Anti-Fascist’ (damn ‘modern’ art collector, too!), he turned in one of his best perfs in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s underrated/underseen HOUSE OF STRANGERS/’49.

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