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With: Humphrey Bogart, Zero Mostel, Ted de Corsia, Everett Sloane, Roy Roberts, Michael Tolan, King Donovan, Bob Steele, Adelaide Klein, Don Beddoe, Tito Vuolo, John Kellogg, Jack Lambert
Written by: Martin Rackin
Directed by: Bretaigne Windust, Raoul Walsh
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 87
Date: 02/24/1951

The Enforcer (1951)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Business of Murder

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Humphrey Bogart proves he was one of the greatest movie stars of all time, still hard as nails toward the end of his career. He's the lynchpin in a very complicated crime story, brought to life both by the credited director Bretaigne Windust and the uncredited director Raoul Walsh (the latter of whom had worked with Bogey several times before). If not for Bogart and for the skilled action of Walsh, The Enforcer might have been a great deal more difficult to follow. It begins as the District Attorney Martin Ferguson (Bogart) prepares for a big trial the next day. He has in custody Albert Mendoza (Everett Sloane), the ringleader of an organization of hired killers. Ferguson has only one witness, Joseph Rico (Ted de Corsia), but unfortunately, Rico is so frightened for his life that he falls to his death.

Now Ferguson has just one night to go back into the files and try to find something -- anything -- to put Mendoza behind bars. Otherwise, he'll go free. Everything comes down to a tense, early morning hunt for the final, unexpected witness. Miraculously, the movie plays a great deal easier and cleaner than it sounds; viewers may find themselves getting lost in various flashbacks while forgetting they're flashbacks. Comedian Zero Mostel, best known for his later role in The Producers (1968), appears here as a nervous potential witness.

Olive Films released this Paramount classic on a beautiful new high-def Blu-ray as well as a new DVD. The great nighttime shots with their inky shadows look terrific here. It's not exactly a rare title, but it's nice to have around.

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