Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5: Desperate (1947)

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On July 13, 2010, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment releases The Film Noir Collection Volume 5.

You won't want to miss this collection of 8 more fantastic film noir classics!

This is a 4 disc set featuring Cornered (1945) (with movie trailer), Desperate (1947), The Phenix City Story (1955), Dial 1119 (1950) (includes theatrical trailer), Armored Car Robbery (1950), Crime in the Streets (1956), Deadline at Dawn (1946), and Backfire (1950).

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Desperate (1947)

The first movie I watched in this collection was Desperate (1947), starring Steve Brodie as Steve Randall, a young newlywed who inadvertently finds himself in trouble after unwittingly accepting a hauling job from a gang of criminals.

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When he tries to alert the police, the crooks intervene and a cop gets killed.

It was fun to watch the rather handsome Raymond Burr cast in the bad-guy role as Walt Radak, the leader of the criminal gang who hired Randall, but I wanted to give him a piece of my mind in just about every scene he had!

Burr does an excellent job of portraying typical criminal mentality - when things take an unplanned turn, it's always the fault of the law abiding citizen or the big, bad cops. It's never anything he did, he's just some innocent criminal, and how dare someone try to defend themselves or run away.

He also really set the tone of this film psychologically. When his character threatens the well being of Randall's pregnant wife (played by Audrey Long), Randall immediately whisks his wife away to safety. On board a train, it is discovered that Randall's picture is in the paper, and he's so sure that the other passengers recognize him that he and his wife scurry off the train at the next stop. As it turns out, the other passengers were looking at him for another reason, and hadn't recognized him at all, so we see some paranoia setting in.

One mishap after another leads to one bad decision after another, and we can just see a domino affect building. Part of that domino affect includes two separate allegations of car theft, one of those being a Sheriff's car.

You might recognize the Sheriff, played by Dick Elliott, who later played Mayor Pike in the Andy Griffith series.

Once Randall gets his wife to what he feels is a safe place, he turns himself in to the police. Jason Robards Sr plays Lt. Ferrari, who has such a poker face and persona that I couldn't really tell whether he bought Randall's story until the very last scene in the film.

I have to say that the most maddening scene of all has to be when the criminals catch up with Randall, and Walt holds him captive just moments before his little brother is to be put to death for killing the cop.

Talk about the climax of the movie, Randall's wife has just given birth and he has had to once again get her and now his newborn daughter to safety.

He stands up to the criminal and says that they can't touch her now, so they'll have to deal with him.

Walt states that they're no longer interested in her, it's him they want, and he intends to kill Randall at midnight, when they pull the switch on Walt's little brother, saying that it's the least he could do for his brother.

That remark had me hopping mad as I sat there and yelled at the screen - "Oh come on, you creep! If you really wanted to do something for your little brother you wouldn't have led him in a life of crime in the first place, you brainless numbskull! Some role model YOU turned out to be!"

Honestly, that line of his struck a nerve with me and made me want to mother him across the seat of his pants and send him to bed without supper until he's 80!

Movies like this never get old, and they just don't make them like this any more. I figure that if the movie riles me up or makes me cry, it's a good one, and this one was definitely a good one! I can tell by how often I yelled at my movie screen chastising Walt (and a couple of other characters) and threatening him with the wooden spoon, which was pretty much non-stop throughout the whole movie. I was left with the distinct feeling that Walt et al. must have been a problem child growing up.

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did!