YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 18: Raw Deal (1948)

I never consider Raw Deal (1948) when thinking about my favorite noirs. And yet, every time I see it, I’m reminded of how good it is.

Maybe the reason that Raw Deal doesn’t make it onto any of my Top 10 lists is because, to me, its parts are greater than the whole. Not that it’s not a first-rate movie, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that there are so many individual things about it that make it memorable. There’s the superb cinematography by the great John Alton that’s practically its own character. And scary Raymond Burr, a refined gangster who, in one scene, tosses a flaming bucket of cognac in a woman’s face. The triangle between Dennis O’Keefe, the woman who loves him, and the woman he loves. The distaff voiceover narration that ties the scenes together.

The film’s appeal is sometimes hard to pin down, but whatever it’s got, I like it. I think you will, too.


These three.

O’Keefe stars as Joe Sullivan, a convict who’s doing time for a crime committed by his boss, Rick Coyle (Burr). When Coyle helps Joe escape, with plans for making sure he doesn’t make a clean getaway, it sets up a four-state dragnet – with the both the cops and Coyle’s henchman chasing after Joe, his devoted girlfriend (Claire Trevor), and the social worker (Marsha Hunt) he met in prison.


The film was directed by Anthony Mann, who helmed a number of memorable noirs – including Desperate (1947), T-Men (1947), and Border Incident (1949) – before turning his talents to the western genre.

One of the many (many) memorable scenes courtesy of John Alton.

In 1949, John Alton wrote Painting with Light, a kind of “how-to” guide to lighting a film. The talented Hungarian-born cameraman, who also gave us the looks found in more than 10 noirs, won an Oscar for his work on An American in Paris (1951).

Marsha Hunt is still with us – she turned 103 on October 17th.


Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 19 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 18, 2020.

2 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 18: Raw Deal (1948)”

  1. Yeah. Raw Deal gets under your skin. The scenes in the woods are mesmerizing.

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