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With fear of communism running rampant, Hollywood scripts of the 1950s often dealt with Soviet plots to undermine the American way of life. One example is United Artists' A Bullet for Joey (1955), starring Edward G. Robinson as a police inspector on the trail of a spy who plots to kidnap an important American atomic scientist. George Raft co-stars as the gangster who is hired to carry out the abduction - but balks when he learns what is at stake and helps the G-man keep the world safe for democracy.
Robinson had personal experience with the Red Scare in the early 1950s when columnists and other writers began to imply that he was either a communist or a communist sympathizer. The witch-hunting publication Red Channels listed him as having been connected with 11 alleged communist fronts. To clear his name, Robinson appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee three times beginning in 1950. The HUAC eventually cleared him with this finding: "According to the evidence of this committee, you are a good, loyal and intensely patriotic American citizen." But in paranoia-prone Hollywood, damage had already been done to Robinson's career. With no offers forthcoming, he turned to European films and the Broadway stage. Eventually he was able to rebuild his Hollywood career with such films as Vice Squad (1953), The Violent Men (1955), and A Bullet for Joey.
Robinson and Raft, referred to in a Variety review for A Bullet for Joey as "veterans of make-believe mayhem, murder and other assorted crimes," had previously acted together in Manpower (1941), co-starring Marlene Dietrich. Their leading lady in A Bullet for Joey, Audrey Totter, recalled that each actor warned her that the other was likely to make amorous advances: "Eddie Robinson told me to watch out for George Raft, and George Raft told me to watch out for Eddie Robinson. Neither one made a pass at me, so I thought that was funny." Totter, who had recently had a baby, wore a tight girdle with metal supports during filming. When she and Raft embraced, the film's soundman complained that he was getting "a clanging noise." According to Totter, Raft asked her, "Are you wearing a steel corset?" When she replied in the affirmative, he admitted, "So am I."
Producer: Samuel Bischoff, David Diamond
Director: Lewis Allen
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes), A.I. Bezzerides, James Benson Nablo (story)
Art Direction: Jack Okey
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Editing: Leon Barsha
Original Music: Harry Sukman
Principal Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Inspector Raoul Leduc), George Raft (Joe Victor), Audrey Totter (Joyce Geary), George Dolenz (Dr. Carl Macklin), Peter Van Eyck (Eric Hartman).
By Roger Fristoe