Raw Deal (1948 film)

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For other films named Raw Deal, see Raw Deal.
Raw Deal
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Mann
Produced by Edward Small
Screenplay by Leopold Atlas
John C. Higgins
Story by Arnold B. Armstrong
Audrey Ashley
Starring Dennis O'Keefe
Claire Trevor
Marsha Hunt
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography John Alton
Edited by Alfred DeGaetano
Edward Small Productions
Reliance Pictures
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films
Release date
  • May 26, 1948 (1948-05-26) (United States)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Raw Deal is a 1948 American film noir crime film directed by Anthony Mann and shot by cinematographer John Alton.[1]


Prisoner Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe), who has "taken the fall" for an unspecified crime, breaks out of jail with the help of his girl, Pat (Claire Trevor), who also serves as a first-person narrator in the story. Neither is aware that the escape has been facilitated by mobster Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr), a sadistic pyromaniac, who has arranged for Joe to be killed in order to avoid paying Joe his share of $50,000 for the crime. When the break-out succeeds, Rick decides that he must have Joe done in some other way.

Pat and Joe kidnap a social worker, Ann (Marsha Hunt), who has been visiting Joe in prison, trying to reform him. This begins a doomed film noir love triangle. A fight with a vicious thug (John Ireland) ends when Ann shoots Joe's attacker in the back. After acting in Joe's defense, Ann realizes she is in love with him. Relenting, he sets her free and prepares to flee the country with Pat. In their hotel room, Pat receives a phone call warning them that Rick has seized Ann and will harm her unless Joe and Pat come out of hiding. Pat lies to Joe that it was a call from the hotel desk clerk since she does not want him to go back to Ann.

After boarding a ship, Joe attempts to convince Pat that they can start a new life in South America together. A guilt-stricken Pat now confesses to Joe that Ann is in danger. Joe races to save Ann from her captor, Rick. Under the cover of a thick fog, Joe manages to get past Rick's thugs and sneaks into Rick's room. A gunfight erupts with Rick and Joe shooting each other and inadvertently starting a fire. Joe and Rick, both wounded, fight hand-to-hand with Joe finally pushing Rick through an upper story window to his death. Mortally wounded, lying in the street, Joe dies in Ann's arms as Pat, under arrest, looks on. Seeing the happiness in Joe's face, Pat comments in voice-over that "This is right for Joe. This is what he wanted."




The film was a success at the box office and was profitable.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

When the film was released, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther panned it. "But this, of course, is a movie—and a pretty low-grade one, at that—in which sensations of fright and excitement are more diligently pursued than common sense...Except for the usual moral—to wit, that crime does not pay—the only thing proved by this picture is that you shouldn't switch sweethearts in mid-lam."[3]

In Girl and a Gun: The Complete Guide to Film Noir, David N. Meyer wrote: "It's the richest cinematography in noir outside of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane."[4]


  1. ^ Raw Deal at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 31
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley (July 9, 1948). "Raw Deal (1948)". The New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2008. 
  4. ^ Meyer, David N. (1998). A Girl and A Gun: The Complete Guide to Film Noir. ISBN 0-380-79067-X. 

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