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Johnny Allegro

Johnny Allegro(1949)

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Johnny Allegro (1949)

George Raft was nearing the end of his tenure as a leading man when he went to Columbia for this stylish film noir. The story, about a gangster on the lam recruited to smoke out an even bigger fish, combined the genre's twisted tales of divided loyalties with a villain out of The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and a hint at the Red Scare (the powers behind the mobster are foreign agents, possibly Communists). Raft could still rattle off clipped dialogue at a rapid pace, one of the skills that made him a star in earlier gangster pictures, but the real honors here go to his co-stars. George MacReady, as the epicene Morgan Vallin, brings all the decadence and hauteur that had made him a memorable match for Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946). Just to add an extra dash of daring to the character, he prefers to hunt down his enemies with a bow and arrow. And Nina Foch, as his wife, who might or might not be on Raft's side, is a revelation. Her combination of icy blonde exterior and throaty, impassioned line-readings make her seem as if she had been cast as an Alfred Hitchcock heroine.

By Frank Miller

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