YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 14: The Enforcer (1951)

I never hear people talk about The Enforcer (1951). I’m going to remedy that today.

First off, let’s talk about the film’s cast. It stars Humphrey Bogart, which is a premium selling point all by itself. But it also boasts a boatload of other veterans from the noir era: Ted de Corsia, Everett Sloane, Roy Roberts, Don Beddoe, Tito Vuolo, John Kellogg, King Donovan, and Jack Lambert. You may not recognize some of these names, but I guarantee you’ll know them when you see them. Oh, I forgot to mention that Zero Mostel has a featured role. (And believe me, y’all – this ain’t no Fiddler on the Roof.)

By the way, for you film lovers who look for femme fatales in your noirs, I regret to inform you that there’s nary a fatal femme in this feature. (In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many females at all.) But if you like flashbacks, The Enforcer has ‘em in spades. Flashbacks within flashbacks. Within flashbacks.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Rico is a big scaredy-cat. With good reason.

The film opens with a heavily guarded prisoner – Joseph Rico (Ted de Corsia) – being escorted to the office of the district attorney, where he’s to remain until the following morning, when he’ll testify in a trial against an organized crime boss named Mendoza. And Mendoza must be a real beaut, because despite the precautions, Rico is terrified that he won’t last through the night, convinced that Mendoza’s men will get to him before he gets a chance to reach the stand.

As it turns out, Rico is correct in suspecting that he won’t live through the night. Having lost his sole witness, the district attorney spends the remainder of the night reviewing the case against the crime boss in an effort to find some sort of overlooked evidence that will put Mendoza away for good.

WHAT ELSE?

One of the film’s few femmes.

The film was directed by Paris-born Bretaigne Windust, who started his career as an actor. In 1928, he co-founded the University Players in Falmouth, Massachusetts; the company included such future stars as Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Mildred Natwick and Barbara O’Neil. He went on to direct such Broadway productions as Life With Father, Arsenic and Old Lace, and State of the Union, but he only helmed a few feature films and TV series before his untimely death at the age of 54.

The Enforcer was inspired by the real-life murder-for-profit underworld organization known in the press as Murder, Inc., and Rico’s demise at the film’s start is akin to the 1941 death of Abraham “Kid Twist” Reles. Like Rico, Reles was slated to testify against the Murder, Inc., organization, but he died the day before he was to appear.

TOMORROW . . .

Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 15 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 14, 2020.

4 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 14: The Enforcer (1951)”

  1. I’m a big fan of The Enforcer. Great cast.

  2. This was one of my late dad’s favourites. If it was on, it was watched! Zero makes my stomach do flip-flops.

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