- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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George Raft brought on his own bad luck, time and time again, turning down some of the best films Warner Bros. had to offer. Poor luck at the race tracks and gambling casinos. Investing in gold and silver mines in the Black Hills that failed. Always an impeccable dresser. He must have been independently wealthy. He never was in the same acting category as James Cagney, Bogart or Clark Gable. An amazing collection of talented people in this otherwise o.k stagey soap opera. A very young Henry (Mash) Morgan .Raymond (Godzilla) Burr, and one of my favorite, bad ladies, Virginia (hold the Mayo). P.S. That was a Very Nice interview T.C.M. showed a while back with Virginia. Sorry to hear she has passed on. She deserved an Oscar for White Heat.
"24 Hour Service"
- Jeff Boston
Vengeance is his indeed. "Red Light" is a fine film that influenced not only the '83 version of "Scarface" but 1960's "Psycho" as well. Hitchcock obviously took note of the scene in "Red Light" where the two detectives tell Torno about a "psycho" taxidermist who "stuffed birds" and one day decided to do away with his mom. Hitchcock even hired Burr for yet another evil pre-Perry Mason role in "Rear Window" just 5 years after "Red Light," which does a good job showing the anguish so many have felt over wanting to exact vengeance but also remain true to their Christian faith. Faith wins in yesterday's Hollywood. Faith also endures in today's hollowed out and weirder America, but not in all hearts and places; the line from the priest brother "San Francisco is a suburb of Heaven" dates this film noir classic even more than the Gideon Bible placed in one of its hotel rooms.
Interesting film noir
To be honest, I never thought George Raft's career carried into the late 40's. I found the characters more interesting than the plot. The lighting created the proper mood. The dialogue was compact and you could feel the wrath of Raft's anger because his style of acting is minimalistic. I thought Virginia was better in this role than James Cagney's moll in "White Heat." I also liked the character who played the hotel bellhop and was the source of Raft's information concerning the bibles.I don' remember his name but I think he was one of the "Dead End Kids." I gave this film 3 stars and thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Kash Buk
Maltin is a good man, but he missed the boat on this one. Raft's greatest ouvre, i believe him as a hard-ass lapsed Catholic. Cinematography is top notch, just look at the double-framed shot of Henry Morgan thru the transom. this is good stuff.
Give it another look , Mr . Maltin .
Judging from the misinformation contained in Leonard Maltin's review , ( Raft does not portray an ex - jailbird . He's the honest owner of a trucking company . ) , I'm left thinking that someone , either Maltin himself or a staff member , should give this enjoyable film another chance . In my opinion , it easily deserves another half to full star for ,at the very least , two reasons . Namely , a memorable murder sequence which takes place in a deserted freight truck depot and Raymond Burr's portrayal of yet another vicious and loathsome heavy .' Red Light ' might not be as well known or appreciated as ' Double Indemnity ' or 'The Big Sleep ' , but for a minor late forties film noir , it's well worth checking out .
Good film noir!
Great story and not plodding. The title "Red Light" comes from the fact that the brother who is killed leaves a message in a hotel Bible for the other brother. The message is a "red light" to put on the brakes to vengeance and allow a higher power to take over. Mayo is quite good in this film and, unbelievably, is actually a good girl in this one. Raymond Burr is, of course, absolutely vile as the bad guy in this film. This is one of George Raft's better performances and he's remarkably low-key here. I can't help but believe Brian de Palma used the last scene in this film to give him the idea for the last scene in "Scarface." Both have neon signs that the bad guy falls under in the last scene of both films. Both signs are messages. Can't be a coincidence!
Professionals at Work
- Lansing Sexton
"Red Light" is a fine B noir. Leonard Maltin calls it turgid, and David Kalat constantly damns it for not being "Double Indemnity", and then praises its originality and good performances. "Red Light" is original in its approach to the classic story of the dangers to be found when seeking vengence. Don Barry's story cleverly justifies the moral dimension of the plot by making the murderd brother a priest, and keeps that side of it alive, but not too strident, by the ironic search for the Gideon Bible.In case all this makes "Red Light" sound like a pious religious picture-it's not. "Red Light" is a noir thriller through and through. George Raft's middling stardom was well behind him by 1949, and no one ever accused him of being a precursor to Marlin Brando, but he made some fine dark crime films in the late Forties, including "Johnny Angel" and "Nocturne'. In "Red Light", it's clear and believable that George succeeded in the trucking business the hard way, and it's his brothers' job to wrestle with the spiritual side of life. The rest of the cast is a cornucopia of favorite character actors in large parts and small. Virginia Mayo whos skin is so astonishingly velvety in Danny Kaye and Bob Hope movies, shows her "Colorado Territory" acting chops to excellent effect. She's not just "the girl", she has a point of view of her own. Raymond Burr is as usual so vile that it seems impossible that he was able to become a much loved TV hero. It's the greatest persona change in movie history. Henry Morgan is a weasel himself, who also managed quite a persona change on television. Gene Lockhart, Arthur Shields, a young Arthur Franz, and William Frawley all add spice to the stewBert Glennon's excellent cinematography shows its noir style early in the film during the murder scene-shot mostly in silouette. Roy del Ruth does a fine job in one of his few independent productions of bringing all the elements together for a very satisfying picture that shouldn't be forgotten.
Hollywood got it Right
- Dan Scott
One of the few films written where Hollyeood got it right. The use of scriptures was appropriate and revealing, and not preachy. There was no sugar-coating. It was very straight forward and thoughtful. While Raymond Burr's demise might have seemed corny, it fit the flow of the story, and was very redemptive for the George Raft character. Harry Morgan was at his evil best and Virginia Mayo was as pretty as ever. Great noir film!
Neat little noir
I'm surprised that Red Light hasn't been reviewed yet! I'm a fan of noir films, and while Red Light is no Big Sleep, it's still pretty good. If I could compare Red Light to anything, it would be a bronze medal: a winner, but could have been better. I particularly liked Raymond Burr's performance, and I wish Virginia Mayo's character was a bit stronger. Red Light isn't perfect, but it's enjoyable and I heartily recommend it for fellow noir fans.
Obscure Film Noir Gem
- Bruce Reber
"Red Light" is an obscure film noir gem starring George Raft and Virginia Mayo. It's a very dark story about trucking company owner John Torno (Raft), trying to find who murdered his Army chaplain brother. Torno learns that the key to solving the murder lies in a Gideon Bible stolen from the hotel room where his brother was killed. Torno will stop at nothing to avenge his brother's death, and he finds out from a passage in the Bible circled by his brother that it's wrong to want vengeance, because it's the work of God and not mortal man. Virginia Mayo is good in her role as the woman who helps Torno, Raymond Burr plays his role as the embezzler Torno had sent to jail and who it's discovered had Torno's brother killed, and Henry (Harry) Morgan plays Burr's prison buddy, the one who actually did the killing. I don't quite get the title, since a red light has nothing to do with anything in the film, and besides it's in black and white. I rate it three stars. I'm a true film noir fan TCM, so thanks for showing the greats of the genre.