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Author Topic: The Narrow Margin (1952)  (Read 4598 times)
cigar joe
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« on: January 30, 2013, 11:20:07 PM »

The Narrow Margin (1952) Director: Richard Fleischer, Writers: Earl Felton (screenplay), Martin Goldsmith (story) Jack Leonard (story).  With Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Don Beddoe, Gordon Gebert, David Clarke, Peter Virgo, and Paul Maxey.



Story:

Two LA Cops arrive in Chi-Town at Union Station on Central Pacific's 49er. Det. Sgt. Walter Brown (McGraw) and longtime senior partner, Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes (Beddoe) are there  to pick up a friendly witness against corruption in the LA City Government for escort back to LA. The witness is the wife of an LA mobster. There is a one hour turnaround for them to pick up  the witness, Mrs. Frankie Neal (Windsor), get back to the station, and make the Golden West (State) Limited back to LA.  

Brown and Forbes grab a cab to a shabby tenement safe-house in a run down neighborhood and pick up Mrs. Neal. On the way the two cops make a $5 bet on the type of woman who would marry a mobster



Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: Bet you're wondering the same thing I am - what she looks like.
Walter Brown: I don't have to wonder - I know.
Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: Why, that's wonderful, Walter, nobody's seen her but you know what she looks like. What a gift.
Walter Brown: Aw, come off it, yer just makin' talk.
Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: Well, we get there just as fast, talkin'. What about this dame, Mr. Crystal Ball?
Walter Brown: A dish.
Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: What kind of a dish?
Walter Brown: Sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy.
Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: How do you know all this?
Walter Brown: Well, what kind of a dame would marry a hood?
Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes: All kinds.

So begins a film with possibly some best hard boiled banter in Film Noir.  If you haven't seen the film there are spoilers below.

SPOILERS

When Brown and Forbes enter the tenement and climb the stairs they immediately hear the decadent jazz piece that becomes the sultry Mrs. Neal's leitmotif.  Brown
correctly portends that his hunch about Mrs. Neal is right and the initial meeting is a hoot. The whole sequence takes on a whole new subtext upon a second screening of the film once you know that Mrs. Neal is in actuality a decoy undercover (internal affairs) Chicago cop, Sarah Meggs, playing the gangster moll, and more than tough as nails McGraw's equal.

Mrs. Neal


Windsor's first view of McGraw and Beddoe


Windsor's turn as a hard boiled internal investigations cop playing a cheap, coarse, sightly seedy floozie is her tour de force. It's Chicago vs LA  and Windsor steals the sceenher large eyes flashing derision.

Forbes: - What’s the music for, a welcome?
CPD: - You don’t know how welcome…. Hey ( to Meggs) turn that thing off … your escorts here.
Meggs (decoy Mrs. Neal) leaves  the jazz spinning,  flips her hair and struts over and runs her eyes over Brown first then Forbes.
CDP: - Forbes and Brown from Los Angeles…
Meggs - How nice, how Los Angeles ( taking a drag and blasting a mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke into Brown’s face)… Sun burn well… on the way out?

Windsor totally eviscerates McGraw, Beddoe and LAPD, with cutting one liners.

Windsor doesn't think much of her LAPD escort


Windsor's doubts about her escorts abilities soon play out in a beautifully executed Noir sequence involving a string of pearls where Beddoe is gunned down in a stairwell and McGraw gives chase through a web of backyard clotheslines.

Rushing in a cab back to the station another classic sequence unfolds, McGraw smacks his fist against his thigh:

Meggs: Charleyhorse?
McGraw: The onetime I let him go first it happened.
Meggs: Forbes?
McGraw: Yea he was getting old and slow... you could put a live bomb in his hand and count ten before he'd drop it. I'll never forgive myself.
Meggs: Well this fine... some protection they send me, an old man who walks right into it, and a weeper.


Meggs reminding McGraw to quit feeling sorry for himself and of the importance of his assignment.

Meggs: ... How long do you think my luck will last?
McGraw: As long as there's cops like Forbes around to get killed for you.
Meggs: Like you I suppose?
McGraw: Yea like me

like you I suppose


Meggs looks him over with a wry smile and comes on to him
Meggs: well my taste doesn't usually run to cops... but you may not be such dull company at that.
Mcgraw gives her the cold shoulder
McGraw: Mrs. Neal we better get one thing straight. You're just a job to me, a COD package to be delivered to the LA Grand Jury and there's no joy in it. I don't like you any more than Forbes did but he got himself murdered for you and maybe I will too. That's what they pay me for. Now do we understand each other?
Meggs:  Relax percy, your shield's untarnished, I've changed my mind.
Meggs leans over and lights her cigarette off of his
Meggs: I wouldn't want any of that nobility to rub off on me.
McGraw: It won't if you keep your distance.
Meggs: All the way to the coast?
McGraw: Poor Forbes.
Meggs:What about poor Forbes?
McGraw: He owed me five bucks.


McGraw is great as Det. Sgt. Walter Brown as he tries hard to protect Mrs. Neal but is not as savy or as cagey as he thinks he is, eventually and unknowingly exposing the real Mrs. Neal (White) through his attraction to her and her reciprocation while at the same time endangering the decoy Windsor.

nice rack Marie ;-)


The majority of the film takes place upon the Limited set as it rattles and rolls believeably towards Los Angeles and the exterior location shots seamlessly blend.

One of my favorites 10/10

« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 06:10:05 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2013, 12:55:38 AM »

This Windsor looks like a poor man's Lupino who is a poor man's anybody herself. I don't think this can make the rating go higher than 7\10.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 12:59:43 AM by titoli » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2013, 04:04:40 AM »

Well for me Windsor, is second only to Grahame as far as Noir babes go.

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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 06:17:47 AM »

Well for me Windsor, is second only to Grahame as far as Noir babes go.

Thanx, you made clear to myself why I never went for noir.

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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 09:13:18 AM »

The movie is shit, the babe ain't nuthin special, and neither is Gloria Grahame, as far as looks go. (I do like watching Grahame very much, cuz she is a very good actress)

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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 03:27:12 PM »

The movie is shit, the babe ain't nuthin special, and neither is Gloria Grahame, as far as looks go. (I do like watching Grahame very much, cuz she is a very good actress)

One of the best of the "Red Meat Crime Cycle" watch it again sometime when you acquire some taste  Cool

« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 03:32:16 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2013, 10:54:38 AM »

Thanx, you made clear to myself why I never went for noir.

 Grin

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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2013, 05:51:43 PM »

Thanx, you made clear to myself why I never went for noir.

I hope you watched it in English, I think a lot of the period one liners would get lost in transation.

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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2013, 07:03:28 PM »

I hope you watched it in English, I think a lot of the period one liners would get lost in transation.

I haven't watched the movie yet. I was only referring to the noir babes you like so much.

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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2013, 08:01:36 PM »

I haven't watched the movie yet. I was only referring to the noir babes you like so much.

I see, I categorize the babes to fit the genres they are in.

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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2013, 02:33:27 AM »

I see, I categorize the babes to fit the genres they are in.

Now I don't get you: a looker is a looker anyway, what has got  the genre to do with that?

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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2013, 03:53:06 AM »

Now I don't get you: a looker is a looker anyway, what has got  the genre to do with that?

The stable of Noir Actresses to choose from.

Well Sophia Loren, Ornella Muti, Claudia Cardinale, Brigitte Bardot, weren't in Film Noir, but I guess I should include Marilyn Monroe.

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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2013, 03:56:58 AM »

Now I don't get you: a looker is a looker anyway, what has got  the genre to do with that?

Personal preferences I guess.

For example, to a man (whoever) a woman does not look the same if dressed in a crinoline or in a swimsuit. Some would like her better in a swimsuit, and some, I guess, in a crinoline. Yet it is the same woman.

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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 05:42:59 AM »

Personal preferences I guess.

For example, to a man (whoever) a woman does not look the same if dressed in a crinoline or in a swimsuit. Some would like her better in a swimsuit, and some, I guess, in a crinoline. Yet it is the same woman.

Yeah, but this Windsor woman wouldn't look good in both attires.

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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 03:02:06 PM »

Yeah, but this Windsor woman wouldn't look good in both attires.
"either". And "attire" is non-countable.

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