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: Riff-Raff (1947)  ( 955 )

« : November 12, 2017, 12:35:20 AM »

His name is Hammer and they call him Hammer, and he's just as subtle!

Riffraff (AKA: erm, Riff-Raff) is directed by Ted Tetzlaff and written by Martin Rackin. It stars Pat O'Brien, Anne Jeffreys, Walter Slezak and Percy Kilbride. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by George Diskant.

Something of a little cracker is this one, a pic for those with a discernible palate of Private Investigator based film noir. Don't be misled into believing others when they write that it's minor noir, or borderline of such, it quite simply is a noir pic from what was a stellar year for that film making style.

Story is based in Panama and finds P.I. Dan Hammer (O'Brien) involved in the search for a map that shows priceless oil concessions. Sure enough there's others who desperately want the map, so in comes murders, beatings and a sultry babe.

Pic opens with the shot of a reptile at nighttime, sitting on a rock in the pouring rain, it probably would have been better to use a snake in the shot, but it certainly is a most appealing and appropriate film opening. From there the piece is a veritable feast of super photography and punchy dialogue. OK, so the plot story is standard fare, but the makers never let it drag things down, there's always a quip or a punch thrown to keep things perky.

Tetzlaff was himself a fine cinematographer (see the previous year's Notorious), and here armed with Diskant (They Live By Night/On Dangerous Ground/The Narrow Margin) in his corner the director makes hay. The plot set-up sequences in an aeroplane are moody visual supreme, and often when a scene calls for it - such as when Hammer is getting tortured in his office by Sleazak and his thugs - the noir style comes to the fore. There's wooden slats everywhere in this, wonderful!

Initially one can be forgiven for being sceptical at a portly 48 year old O'Brien playing a tough P.I., but he pulls it off, sharp of tongue and he throws a good punch does Pat. Jeffreys (Dillinger) slinks in for some initial sultry suspicion, and does well, even getting involved in the key fight scene, Kilbride is wonderfully wry as Hammer's unofficial aide, and Sleazak does what he does best, Weasle time!

Capping it off is the MacGuffin map, whose whereabouts at reveal is cheeky and something Hitch would have been proud of. Riffraff is a winner and well worth seeking out. 7/10


cigar joe
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« #1 : November 12, 2017, 05:38:59 AM »

Never seen this one thanks for the write up.  O0

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« #2 : November 12, 2017, 09:13:42 AM »

Same here, never even heard of it. I'll try to track it down. It got a lot of good reviews.

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« #3 : November 12, 2017, 03:19:41 PM »

I know I've seen this film (probably about 12 years ago). I just don't know why I can't remember anything about it! I'm sure that I liked this film....

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« #4 : December 07, 2021, 11:07:47 AM »

I agree with the review except for "Initially one can be forgiven for being sceptical at a portly 48 year old O'Brien playing a tough P.I.". No, sorry, this actor is as miscast as can be, even worse faring than Edmond would have been. That's why I give this a 7/10 that, with a different actor, would have risen to a solid 8/10.   

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