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Force of Evil

Force of Evil(1949)

Remind Me

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The working titles of this film were Tucker's People, The Story of Tucker's People and The Numbers Racket. According to an August 1948 Daily Variety news item, the PCA objected to the word "racket" in the title and so ruled out the use of The Numbers Racket. The film opens with the offscreen voice of "Joe Morse" speaking over an image of Wall Street. Joe says, "tomorrow, July 4th, I intended to make my first million dollars...temporarily, the enterprise was slighty illegal, you see I was the lawyer for the numbers racket...The suckers bet on any combination of three numbers. Twenty million bettors a day in the United States, an annual income of over $100,000, seemed a shame so much good money to go to waste in other people's pockets..."
       The Variety review and CBCS incorrectly list Sheldon Leonard as "Ficco." According to a June 1948 news item in the Los Angeles Daily News, Dorothy Comingore was slated to appear in the film. A June 1948 New York Times news item notes that two climactic sequences were to be shot on location in New York City. An October 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that director Abraham Polonsky and producer Bob Roberts were assembling and editing an alternate beginning to the film to be tested at a series of previews. It has not been determined if the alternate opening was used in the released print, however. According to materials contained in the PCA files in the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen objected to "the completely anti-social basic theme of this story, which presents wrong as right and right as wrong, in violation of both the letter and spirit of the Production Code." The Variety review criticized the film because its "poetic, almost allegorical interpretation keeps intruding on the tougher elements of the plot." The Hollywood Reporter review complained that the direction was "more concerned with plugging the verbose dialogue than in achieving action and dramatic values." Modern critics now praise the film for those same qualities.
       According to a 1953 Daily Variety news item, Bank of America foreclosed on Enterprise Productions, Inc., claiming that the company owed them an unpaid sum of $208,000 for the financing of the film and were also in arrears for Body and Soul. For more information about that suit, please see the entry above for Body and Soul.
       Force of Evil marked the screen debut of Beatrice Pearson, and also marked the directorial debut of screenwriter Abraham Polonsky. According to modern sources, Polonsky went to Europe to write a novel after completing the film. Upon returning to Hollywood in 1950, he concluded a deal with Twentieth Century-Fox to direct his next project. In April 1951, however, Polonksy was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and after refusing to affirm or deny membership in the Communist party, he was blacklisted. During the period of the blacklist, Polonsky worked as an uncredited writer for both films and television. In 1968, he received screenplay credit for Madigan, the first time his name appeared onscreen since being blacklisted. Polonsky did not direct another picture until the 1969 film Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.