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A loan shark terrorizes the citizens of Brooklyn in Out of the Fog (1941). John Garfield plays the completely amoral racketeer, Harold Goff, whose extortion schemes finally go too far, leaving his victims to take matters into their own hands. Ida Lupino is the woman who loves him despite his criminal activity.
Hollywood wasn't quite ready for a story like Out of the Fog in 1941. This dark drama is actually closer to a film noir and was ahead of its time. The play on which it was based, The Gentle People by Irwin Shaw, ended much differently from the movie version. Shaw's more pessimistic pre-World War II play makes a symbolic plea against fascism and calls for a united front in Europe. And the stage version leaves the criminal unpunished, something the Hays Office would not yet allow in Hollywood. So the story was changed and a more hopeful ending added, where the bad guy gets what he deserves. Out of the Fog, and The Maltese Falcon (1941) which was released the same year, helped set the tone for even darker and more cynical noirs that would follow like Double Indemnity (1944) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).
Another interesting bit of trivia about Out of the Fog is who wasn't cast. Humphrey Bogart actually lobbied Warner Bros. to play the lead in the film. But the studio thought Garfield was a better box office draw. Garfield went on to define himself by the noir genre, starring in movies like Force of Evil (1948). 1941 would be Bogart's break out year with the above mentioned The Maltese Falcon, and Bogie's best known role, Rick in Casablanca, would follow a year later in 1942.
Director: Anatole Litvak
Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke
Screenplay: Richard Macaulay, Robert Rossen, Jerry Wald, based on the play by Irwin Shaw
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Editor: Warren Low
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Cast: Ida Lupino (Stella Goodwin), John Garfield (Harold Goff), Thomas Mitchell (Jonah Goodwin), Eddie Albert (George Watkins), John Qualen (Olaf Knudsen).
BW-86m. Close captioning.
by Stephanie Thames