Trucker Steve Brodie life is turned upside down. This review is for the noir on the run thriller Desperate (1947)
What’s going down?
Happily married couple Steve (Steve Brodie) and Anne (Audrey Long) are giddy in love. With the prospect of starting a family and buying a house Steve is eager to work hard. As an independent trucker he agrees to take on an out of hours pick up and delivery at a warehouse. It soon becomes apparent that the job is way dodgy. Stolen goods. He know’s the hoodlum, Radak (Raymond Burr) and henchmen. Steve doesn’t want any part of this job. Things are soon to escalate fast out of his control. He will be running for not only his but his wife’s life too. A cross country escape with a crazed mad man on a death vengeance mission not far behind.
The main players
Steve Brodie – Steve Randall
Audrey Long – Anne Randall
Raymond Burr – Walt Radak
Douglas Fowley – Private Detective
William Challee – Reynolds
Jason Robards – Lieutenant Louie Ferrari
Freddie Steele – Shorty Abbott
Tagline – MURDER at any moment! SUSPENSE… in every step!!!
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
I really didn’t know Steve Brodie all that well before this week. Though I had seen him in the two superior noir Robert Mitchum films Out of the Past (1947) and Crossfire (1947). It’s now I realise I’d also seen him last year in the Humphrey Bogart’s World War Two drama The Caine Mutiny (1954). So please feel free to recommend me some more Brodie thank you.
I only know Audrey Long from last week’s grim noir Born To Kill (1947). However I just learnt a fun fact that she married Leslie Charteris the thriller author, screenwriter and creator of world famous anti-hero criminal Simon Templar aka The Saint.
Always good to see Raymond Burr in these early thrillers where he’d always be cast as the big brooding hoodlum with a temper. Check the awesome Raw Deal (1948) with Dennis O’keefe and Claire Trevor. Also check Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell. Then of course he’s in one of the greatest Alfred Hitchcock films, Rear Window (1954). Burr can be seen in the mega depressing Dennis Hopper flick called Out of the Blue (1980) before being immortalized as Ironside and then solving a gazillion Perry Mason cases.
Notes on production?
As of the beginning of my movie blog in 2017 I hadn’t seen any of Anthony Mann’s directed films. Flash forward 3 years and I’ve ticked off quite a bunch. T-Men (1947) Raw Deal (1948) Side Street (1950) all being superb noirs. Big fan of Men In War (1957) with Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray. The Naked Spur (1953) added some cowboy flare. WW2 action with The Heroes of Telemark (1965) and A Dandy In Aspic (1968) would become his last film. Maybe he’s best known for El Cid (1961) and The Glenn Miller Story (1954). Anthony Mann’s filmography is pretty awesome and I still have lots to see.
Desperate is from a story written by Mann and Dorothy Atlas. With the screenplay put together by Harry Essex who also wrote the screenplays for last weeks Bodyguard (1948) the sci-fi classic It Came from Outer Space (1953) and the incredible Kansas City Confidential (1952). I spy he directed a Mickey Spillane’s story of Mike Hammer called I, the Jury (1953). I fancy giving that a go.
Hits like a sledge hammer
One of the main things we love these thrillers for is their toughness. Desperate fulfills that quota well, especially when the brooding smashing man hulk Burr is on screen. Just the use of a swinging beam of light casting shadows of pure menace as the brutally ready gangsters show they mean business. A bottle smashed with jagged shards of razor sharp glass ready to slice and dice. A clutched fist fires across the screen. Walt Radak is ready to kill.
It’s just dawned on me that 1947 and 1948 were two crazy years for awesome noirs. Those two years seem to have been relentless for brilliant little thrillers.
How much bad luck can you have on road trip escape? Steve and Anne certainly get their fair share as their desperate flight of survival unfolds. As with most of these thrillers from the era they keep everything nicely packed and rolled out in a short run-time. You root for Steve and Anne as each corner of their journey hits another snag. Burr’s Radak fills his part well as the brutal thug and there’s even nice little touches with some of his henchmen like Shorty and Pete the “pushing his luck” private eye.
All in all it’s a good little movie. Yeah it’s a little light on the dark noir we love but those moments with vicious Burr and that above mentioned swinging lamp make-up for our loss. Great to be able to tick another Anthony Mann film from the list and at the same time get to notice and add Steve Brodie to my future viewings. Desperate is here to stream if you fancied it
Wolfman’s rating 7/10 IMDB 6.8/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf