A Dangerous Profession

Released Dec. 10, 1949: A DANGEROUS PROFESSION, starring George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Ella Raines, and Jim Backus. Directed by Ted Tetzlaff (Riffraff, Johnny Allegro, Gambling House). Raft plays an ex-cop turned bail bondsman, whose life is disrupted when an old flame (Ella Raines) unexpectedly turns up seeking his help to bail out her husband (Bill Williams). At first, Raft is reluctant because of his unresolved past with Raines, but eventually he comes around. However, ADangerousProfessionRaft get suspicious when a mysterious lawyer (David Wolfe) offers to cover half of Williams’ bond, stirring Raft’s dormant detective instincts and drawing him into a tangled web of corruption and deceit. This film has a great cast that is unfortunately, weighed down by an unnecessarily intricate and meandering story, that develops slowly and offers no real suspense or surprises. It doesn’t help that Tetzlaff’s direction is relentlessly routine and uninspired, resolutely avoiding creative camera angles, artistic lighting, or varied pacing. On top of that, the climactic car chase and fight at the end of the film is handled so poorly, it comes across amateurish and staged, leaving us with a feeble payoff for all our trouble. The cast is the only thing that makes this film worthwhile. Raft and O’Brien, who were moving past the zenith of their careers at the time this film was made, both deliver strong and engaging performances. Raines isn’t given nearly enough scenes, and is essentially reduced to a minor supporting character, which is unfortunate, because she is one of the bright spots in an otherwise lifeless film. And for those of us who grew up watching Jim Backus as the bumbling millionaire on Gilligan’s Island (1964-67), it’s a delight to see him in the role of a wise-cracking police detective. Overall, this is an unspectacular film mired by an oblique story and uninspired directing, which even the talented cast can’t overcome. We give A Dangerous Profession 2 out of 5 fedoras.

2 Fedoras

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