Raw Deal (1948) John Alton’s rapturous noir cinematography captures this stark tragedy about a palooka who breaks out of prison to “catch a breath of air.” Joe Sullivan [Dennis O’Keefe] is aided and abetted by Pat [Claire Trevor] who provides, quite a twist, the voice-under narration. Joe, forced to find a hideout, breaks into the apartment of Ann (Marsha Hunt) who wants to reform him. He and Pat kidnap Ann and flee. Now there are two women to fight over him as he waffles between. Slowly we watch Ann transform from a model citizen to a criminal capable of taking a gun and shooting a thug trying to kill Joe. She runs to the beach and has a moral crisis. Raymond Burr plays the crime boss Rick Coyle , who’s holding out on Joe and who decides to have him killed. Directed by Anthony Mann, from the first flip of the cigarette lighter to the final blazing finale, fate lets no one off the hook.
Law is the hope of the poor, but law
Is what lawyers and judges say it is.
Settling old scores is up to you alone.
Having taken the rap for someone else
By writing a check from your own account
To buy her silence during the campaign,
You protect the boss, paying allegiance
In the Age of Transparency.
She comes into the park. Arkansas
Is splendid in its limited beauty.
Her lawyer sits on the park bench.
She joins him. “The affair is over,”
She says. “I found you too late,”
She says. “You put me in jeopardy.”
She pats his hand. “Do
What you have to do.” He does,
Discreetly, one bullet to the head.
It’s a raw deal wherever you turn,
And just when you think you’ve stepped off
The raging bull everyone believes in,
In step two versions of your ideal love,
The good girl who learns to kill for you,
And the bad girl whose story this is,
Thanks to whose memory you still exist.
[Disposable Poem March 27, 2017]