Raw Deal (1948) Prison Break, Pyromaniac Mobster, A Threesome & A Theremin!

Raw Deal (1948) anthony mann film noir dennis o'keefe movie poster

Here’s a film noir that hits a whole heap of crazy, yet still manages to keep its feet on the ground. Director Anthony Mann delivers this mile a minute crime drama that whips you into a frenzy with it’s rapid fire action, suspense and thrills and spills. Love triangles, gangsters, hitmen, a twisted firestarter, roadblocks, man hunts, torture, fights, gun battles and inner monologues. This film has it all in it’s 79 minute runtime, sit back and strap yourself in for the ride.

Raw Deal (1948) Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe) anthony mann film noir

First Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) has to a break out of prison with the help of his loyal, doting girl Pat Regan (Claire Trevor). She’ll do anything for her man, everything is planned, tickets booked for Panama, they just need to get to San Francisco. But wait there’s a flosey on the scene and she’s easy on Joe’s eye. Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt) is his, by the books, legal caseworker and she smells real good. Pat’s got competition!

Raw Deal (1948) Pat Regan (Claire Trevor) inner monologues thereminRaw Deal (1948) Pat Regan (Claire Trevor) Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe) Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt)

Joe also has something else on his mind, a giant shouldered pyromaniac mobster by the name of Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr). Rick likes to toy with his trusty lighter and dish out pain whenever he can. Rick’s second in command is a house of cards hitman called Fantail (John Ireland) and both know Joe is gonna be gunning for them. Joe had taken the rap for a job gone wrong and he’s set on being compensated for 50 grand. Joe’s coming but hey it’s a ten thousand to one chance he will get out of prison without being caught, shot or even killed. Rick sends Fantail as a guarantee just to make sure he doesn’t get through the police roadblocks.

Raw Deal (1948) Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr) mobster gangster

With brawls so realistic that each punch is felt as they beat the living daylights out of each other. Glass bottles smash, sharp objects stab and watch out for all the antlers of trophies hanging on the wall. Every corner is drenched in foreboding darkness with little ebbs of light shining through to capture the dark mood and amp up the claustrophobic tension. Hiding in the shadows, peeking through blinds, hitmen crouching down dark alleys, death looms round each corner. This is a dark, brooding and menacing film.

Raw Deal (1948) anthony mann film noir hitman called Fantail (John Ireland)

But wait that’s not all? The excellent dialogue is relentless and fun. Especially Pat’s surreal dream monologues to the sound of the Theremin! Such an odd choice but it’s adds another level to everything that is thrown into this bonkers thriller.

Raw Deal (1948) Pat Regan (Claire Trevor) time is ticking

Here’s a collection of said quotes that brought a big smile to my face.

Pat Regan – “I don’t know what sounds louder? My heels or my heart!

Joe Sullivan – “He tried to put a meat stamp on me!”

Joe Sullivan – “Next time you come up, don’t wear that perfume”
Ann Martin – “Why not?”
Joe Sullivan – “It doesn’t help a guy’s good behavior!”

Police Capt. Fields – “If he gets through this dragnet he’s slippery as a nail in a barrel full of oil”

Joe Sullivan – “As they say, life starts at 50 G’s”

Ann Martin – “Just because I own a car and a tailored suit and my nails are clean, you think I’ve never had to fight?”

Pat Regan – “What you got the gun for?”
Joe Sullivan – “I wanna kiss a friend goodnight”

Joe Sullivan – “Keep your eye on Miss Law and Order here. She might go soprano on us”

This is great fun and fast paced, a few bits in the story get a little clunky but mainly it’s on the money. I certainly hadn’t seen Raymond “Ironside” Burr in such a menacing sadist psychopathic role before and what with the camera angles helping to make him even more sinister. I have another Anthony Mann and Dennis O’Keefe movie called T-Men to watch soon. Plus I see there’s a Mann and John Ireland film called Railroaded! to add to the watch list. Good times ahead.

Raw Deal (1948) anthony mann film noir corkscrew alley

PS. Maybe pop back to see what Anthony Mann film ticked all the right boxes for me and even starred “Clint Eastwood“!! but did it live up to my expectations?

To play us out, here is Clara Rockmore with her rendition of “The Swan” on the Theremin. What a crazy instrument it is.

17 thoughts on “Raw Deal (1948) Prison Break, Pyromaniac Mobster, A Threesome & A Theremin!

  1. One of the truly great Noir thrillers. I can tell how much you enjoyed this one. It is awesome for all the reasons you listed. So many great performances in this one. Raymond Burr made a scary villain. If you liked him in this, check him out as a bad guy in Pitfall opposite Dick Powell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There I was thinking that I can’t imagine Raymond Burr did many bad guy roles and low and behold there is another. I haven’t seen Pitfall but it is on my list and didn’t know Burr was in it. I will pushing up that up the top very soon. Thank you for the recommend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • If people have only seen him in Perry Mason and Ironside it can be a jolt to the system to see him play so mean. In the early era of his career he often play bad or unpleasant characters, but is remembered now mostly for his nice characters.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A dark gem of a movie with a loaded cast of pros. Burr was featured in a slew of good noirs before becoming Perry Mason… check him out in ‘His Kind of Woman”, with Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, and the one-and- only Vincent Price! That one is a must-see!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s it set in stone, I need to get on the “His Kind Of Woman” was only recommended last week by “Mikes take on the movies” for the Vincent connection. I didn’t know Mr Burr was in it too. Right i’m off to sort that out asap 🙂 cheers

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Burr was a major SOB until TV gave him a new look. Mann was a master of Noir and even brought that feel along with him to the Jimmy Stewart films he did. I believe tmen has a great Charles McGraw role and a Mann flick to check out is the tough Border Incident.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally forgot (how could I?) that it was Burr in a certain Hitchcock film. Doh facepalm.
      All over “Border Incident” that sounds amazing! Thank you. And it stars KHAN! which will you believe me, I have just lined up “Mystery Street” with him in to go and I never knew he’d done noir until yesterday. Can’t wait to jump in.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post 🙂 Awesome 🙂 Another Anthony Mann film 🙂 He was great at directing not only film noirs like this one, but also westerns (Winchester 73, The Naked Spur etc.) and epics (El Cid). Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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