“A Bullet for Joey”
Directed by Lewis Allen
Cast: Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Audrey Totter, George Dolenz, Peter van Eyck.
Released April 15, 1955. Reviewed on blu ray from Kino Lorber
Edward G. Robinson and George Raft last appeared together in the 1941 Warner Brothers feature “Manpower” on which, it has been said, they did not get along. The two actors are co-stars again fourteen years later in the 50s noir “A Bullet For Joey.”
Raft had been appearing in low budget noir programmers for the low budget Lippert Pictures, while Robinson’s last two movies were the western “The Violent Men” and the drama “Tight Spot,” both for Columbia. They’d come a long way from the gangster movies in which each actor had established himself. Raft is hardly the most versatile actor of his time, but he has a very firm, anchored presence in every scene. Edward G. Robinson is a brilliant actor who owns every scene in which he appears. Both are a good reason to see “A Bullet For Joey.”
Robinson is a detective investigating a cop’s murder in Montreal, and as he digs deeper he discovers a complex plot where mobster Raft is being paid to help kidnap a nuclear physicist and turn him over to communist spies. Audrey Totter as a seductive blonde whom gangster Raft uses to help him execute his kidnapping plot.
Element of film noir blend with actors who gained fame in 1930s gangster dramas, and with the then-popular communist scare added for good measure. Lewis Allen’s director uses no fancy angles, simply framing the action and lighting the set for effective mood. Some reviews of this movie dismiss it as boring, but this reviewer was far more impressed. “A Bullet For Joey” progresses at an even pace, with new developments, that pop up continuously to further enhance the narrative. It is taut, suspenseful, and well acted, especially by veteran stars.
One year later Robinson would score big in “The Ten Commandments.” He would continue to remain active until his death in 1973, his final film being “Soylent Green” in which he gives one of his finest performances. Raft’s comeback from B movies would come three years later in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like it Hot.” He would also remain active until his passing in 1980, but mostly in B movies, or cameos such as “The Ladies Man” (1961) with Jerry Lewis.
The Kino Lorber blu ray offers excellent picture and sound, the picture quality having the softer classic film look that is most effective with a movie like this. “A Bullet for Joey” is highly recommended.