Based on the 1940 revelations of Abe Reles regarding the existence of an organized crime group called Murder Inc., but inspired by the Kefauver Committee investigations of 1950, this raw drama can be viewed as a key transitional film between the noir ethos of the 1940s and crime syndicate obsessed 1950s. Reveling in the lingo of the murder business with its talk of "contracts," "hits" and "fingers," this was the first film to deal with the mysterious structures of organized crime.
The film begins with a brief prologue by Senator Estes Kefauver, the head of the crime investigation committee, explaining the burning need to bring criminals to justice. Joseph Rico (De Corsia), head of the syndicate's professional murder squad, has been brought in and put under protective
custody after agreeing to testify against crime czar Albert Mendoza (Sloane). Martin Ferguson (Bogart), the district attorney, has spent four years building his case against Mendoza and, with Rico's testimony, he'll be able to send him to the electric chair for mass murder. However, Rico, in
terror, escapes and falls to his death. Ferguson seeks to find some tiny clue in the bulk of evidence so as to save his case.
This powerful crime drama was shot in stark black and white by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Robert Burks and directed with a quick, crisp style by Windust. Reportedly some of the film's footage had to be restaged by action veteran Raoul Walsh. Though he is uncredited, Walsh's imprint is
apparent as he establishes the semidocumentary approach that proved so successful in his WHITE HEAT. Rackin's script is tough, even brutal, in depicting the slaughterhouse deeds of the worst gang of killers ever to intimidate America.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on the 1940 revelations of Abe Reles regarding the existence of an organized crime group called Murder Inc., but inspired by the Kefauver Committee investigations of 1950, this raw drama can be viewed as a key transitional film between the noir ethos… (more)