Cast & Crew
Edward G. Robinson
Peter Van Eyck
One morning in Montreal, atomic physicist Dr. Carl Macklin gives a coin to an organ grinder's monkey as he leaves his hotel. Unknown to Carl, the organ grinder's hurdy-gurdy contains a motion picture camera, which is filming Carl. After Carl bids good morning to Constable Dan Percy, Percy notices the camera and chases the fleeing organ grinder, who is named Paola. When Percy catches him, Paola beats the constable to death, then reports to his boss, book dealer Eric Hartman. Hartman is actually a ringleader of a Communist organization seeking to kidnap Carl and steal his latest invention. Infuriated that Paola has endangered their operation, Hartman kills him and dumps his mutilated body in a ditch. While Inspector Raoul Leduc and Sgt. Fred Hart of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigate the seemingly unrelated crimes, Raphael Garcia, one of Hartman's henchmen, contacts exiled American gangster Joe Victor in Lisbon. Assuring Victor that he is only to kidnap Carl and not kill him, Garcia tempts him to accept the job by pointing out that if he goes to Canada, it will be easy to slip across the border to the United States. Lured by the $100,000 Garcia is offering, Victor travels to Montreal, where, under the name of Earl Steiner, he pretends to be a refugee working for farmer Anthony DuBois. While Victor rounds up his former gang members--Morrie, Nick Johanes and Jack Allen--he questions Hartman about Carl's habits. Upon learning that the hard-working Carl has no girl friend, Victor decides to enlist his former flame, Joyce Geary. Nick travels to Havana, where Joyce is operating a modeling agency, and when Joyce refuses to rejoin the gang, Nick threatens to expose her dubious past to Cuban officials. Meanwhile, in Montreal, Victor orders the handsome Jack to romance Carl's secretary, Yvonne Temblay, and pump her for information about Carl. Jack is repulsed by the homely Yvonne but nonetheless meets her at a club that night and charms her into another date. That night, Joyce arrives, and although Victor tries to rekindle their romance, the embittered Joyce rejects him and goes to stay with Hartman and his wife Viveca. Meanwhile, Leduc and his forensic scientists have identified the mutilated corpse as that of the organ grinder, and Leduc begins to keep a protective eye on Carl. One day, Joyce finagles an introduction to Carl by taking golf lessons at his club, and soon the couple is inseparable. Jack continues to date Yvonne but is frustrated by her lack of trust, and so Victor advises him to marry her and leave her later. Yvonne's over-protective sister sees Jack pick up Yvonne that night, and when Yvonne stays out past her curfew, the sister goes to Carl, who calms her fears and sends her home. Unknown to Carl, however, Jack shoots and kills Yvonne after she accidentally tells him where Carl's experiments are conducted, then realizes that Jack has been using her. The following morning, Jack goes to DuBois' farmhouse and lies to Victor, telling him that Yvonne is waiting for him, and leaves after collecting his pay. After Yvonne's body is found, her sister identifies Jack, and with the help of the FBI, Leduc connects him to Victor. Leduc then goes to Carl's country club, and there tells him of Yvonne's murder. Leduc is intrigued by Joyce's dramatic reaction to the news, and later that day, when Victor and Hartman read about the murder, Victor assures Hartman that he will take care of Jack before he can be questioned by the police. That night, Nick calls Los Angeles and orders Jack killed. When Leduc learns that Jack has been murdered, he subpoenas all the phone records in town and deduces that the call to Los Angeles was placed at a particular nightclub. There, Leduc arranges for Nick to get into a brawl, and the police obtain Nick's fingerprints and photograph when he is arrested. Leduc's men also discover that DuBois had recently sponsored a refugee from Lisbon, Victor's last known residence, but when they investigate, a suspicious Victor escapes and moves into Hartman's house. Meanwhile, Leduc gently questions Carl about Joyce, with whom the scientist has fallen in love. Back at Hartman's house, Joyce, who reciprocates Carl's feelings, is writing a letter to Leduc, informing him about the kidnapping scheme, when she is interrupted by Victor. Realizing that Joyce has switched allegiances, Victor forces her to lure Carl to the house, where Hartman knocks him out with a poisoned drink. The Hartmans then take Carl and Joyce aboard a ship bound for Europe. Upon learning that the constables following Carl have lost him, Leduc realizes that the only way to find the scientist is through Victor. Pretending to be workmen transporting Carl's equipment for testing, Leduc and a constable drive a truck to the rendezvous point. Victor, Nick and Morrie hijack the truck and stow Leduc and the constable in the back. The truck is loaded onto the ship, and while in the cargo hold, Leduc is unable to radio headquarters for help because the tracking device's battery has died. Seeing the men using the radio, Nick shoots the constable and captures Leduc. When Leduc is brought to the main cabin, he is recognized by Hartman, who tells him that even though they do not have Carl's equipment, Carl is the true prize sought by the Communists. Leduc attempts to incite Victor, Nick and Morrie to rebel against Hartman, but after Victor demands his money from Hartman and is paid, he is satisfied. Victor's attitude changes, however, when the ship sails and Hartman refuses to allow him to disembark. Leduc pleads with Victor for help, asking him to "do something decent for once" by fighting the Communists. Victor reluctantly agrees, and as the men try to reach the radio, Nick is killed by the ship's captain. Victor gives Morrie some money and shoves him overboard to safety, while Leduc reaches the truck and shoots off a distress flare. Hartman states that by alerting the river patrol, Leduc has signed Carl's death warrant, for the Communists will kill him if they cannot have him. When Hartman then goes to get Carl, Joyce begs him not to leave the cabin, but Carl, hoping to protect Joyce, leaves with the killer. Carl sees Victor hiding behind a door, however, and slips aside to safety while the two men shoot it out. Victor kills Hartman but is fatally wounded himself. Before dying, Victor gives Leduc Joyce's letter, thereby clearing her of all potential charges, and asks him to scatter his ashes in the United States. Leduc agrees, then somberly tells the embracing Joyce and Carl that Victor died a hero.
Edward G. Robinson
Peter Van Eyck
Bill Beaudine Jr.
A. I. Bezzerides
James Benson Nablo
Herman E. Webber
A Bullet for Joey - Edward G. Robinson & George Raft in A BULLET FOR JOEY on DVD
What A Bullet For Joey does offer is an offbeat location (Montreal), some strikingly brutal scenes, and the chance to see Edward G. Robinson and George Raft together for the first and only time since Manpower (1941), a picture on which they famously fought behind the scenes.
Neither actor really does a whole lot here, but their star presence is enough to convince us quite easily that Raft is an aging mobster and Robinson is a seen-it-all police inspector. Raft has been deported to Portugal before the picture opens, where he is approached by a shady European to fly to Montreal, round up his former hoodlums and bring them to town to carry out a job. The job is to kidnap a nuclear scientist so that Communist spies can take him away and obtain his secrets. Robinson (working in the for-the-money, 'B' portion of his career) is the Montreal inspector who tries to piece it all together after people start getting murdered. Audrey Totter provides the biggest spark among the cast, playing Raft's former moll whom he calls to Montreal in order to pretend to seduce the nuclear scientist. She ends up falling for him for real. It's fun to watch Totter effortlessly switch from charm to sarcasm throughout the movie.
In comparing this movie to, say, Pickup on South Street (1953), another picture that deals with anti-Communism, one can see the difference between film noir and a simple "crime thriller." In Pickup, thanks to writer-director Sam Fuller's technique, we enter a world which oozes seedy corruption from every frame and keeps us off-balance throughout. Director Lewis Allen's A Bullet For Joey, despite some tough individual scenes which do emanate "noir," is much more traditional, and is a film that we watch from a feeling of relative safety. It even incorporates some semidocumentary techniques that were in vogue a few years earlier, in its scenes of the police tracking the criminals through the city.
Among those scenes which are tougher, there is one plot thread which finds henchman William Bryant seducing plain-Jane secretary Toni Gerry as a way to get some information about her boss, the scientist. This sequence of events - the most impressive in the film - culminates in a moment of brutality that remains quite shocking.
A Bullet For Joey was written from a story by James Benson Nablo by two of the greatest screenwriters in all of film noir, A.I. Bezzerides and Geoffrey Homes, whose real name was Daniel Mainwaring. Bezzerides' credits featured Thieves' Highway (1949), On Dangerous Ground (1952) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955), while Mainwaring's work included Out of the Past (1947), The Big Steal (1949) and Roadblock (1951), not to mention the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). Nonetheless, while this script's plotting moves fairly well, and has some pretty good hard-boiled dialogue ("Doesn't that raise your pulse even slightly?" "I don't have any pulse."), it's not enough to lift the movie out of the realm of fair curiosity.
A Bullet For Joey's price, especially without any extras to speak of, makes the DVD hard to recommend to any but the most hard-core fans of the cast or genre. It's not a movie that most will want to look at more than once. Picture and sound are very good.
For more information about A Bullet for Joey, visit MGM Home Entertainment. To order A Bullet for Joey, go to TCM Shopping.
by Jeremy Arnold
A Bullet for Joey - Edward G. Robinson & George Raft in A BULLET FOR JOEY on DVD
A Bullet for Joey
Robinson had personal experience with the Red Scare in the early 1950s when columnists and other writers began to imply that he was either a communist or a communist sympathizer. The witch-hunting publication Red Channels listed him as having been connected with 11 alleged communist fronts. To clear his name, Robinson appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee three times beginning in 1950. The HUAC eventually cleared him with this finding: "According to the evidence of this committee, you are a good, loyal and intensely patriotic American citizen." But in paranoia-prone Hollywood, damage had already been done to Robinson's career. With no offers forthcoming, he turned to European films and the Broadway stage. Eventually he was able to rebuild his Hollywood career with such films as Vice Squad (1953), The Violent Men (1955), and A Bullet for Joey.
Robinson and Raft, referred to in a Variety review for A Bullet for Joey as "veterans of make-believe mayhem, murder and other assorted crimes," had previously acted together in Manpower (1941), co-starring Marlene Dietrich. Their leading lady in A Bullet for Joey, Audrey Totter, recalled that each actor warned her that the other was likely to make amorous advances: "Eddie Robinson told me to watch out for George Raft, and George Raft told me to watch out for Eddie Robinson. Neither one made a pass at me, so I thought that was funny." Totter, who had recently had a baby, wore a tight girdle with metal supports during filming. When she and Raft embraced, the film's soundman complained that he was getting "a clanging noise." According to Totter, Raft asked her, "Are you wearing a steel corset?" When she replied in the affirmative, he admitted, "So am I."
Producer: Samuel Bischoff, David Diamond
Director: Lewis Allen
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes), A.I. Bezzerides, James Benson Nablo (story)
Art Direction: Jack Okey
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Editing: Leon Barsha
Original Music: Harry Sukman
Principal Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Inspector Raoul Leduc), George Raft (Joe Victor), Audrey Totter (Joyce Geary), George Dolenz (Dr. Carl Macklin), Peter Van Eyck (Eric Hartman).
By Roger Fristoe
A Bullet for Joey
The working titles of this film were Canada's Great Manhunt and The Kill. According to a September 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, writer James Benson Nablo appealed to the Screen Writers Guild [SWG] to solve a dispute with producer David Diamond. Nablo alleged that Diamond had offered to sign him to write the screenplay for the film based on a Coronet magazine story by Stephen Brott entitled "Canada's Great Manhunt." No other contemporary information about Brott has been found, however, and his contribution to the finished picture, if any, has not been determined. The September 1954 news item also announced that Geoffrey Homes had been signed to write the film's screenplay. In December 1954, Hollywood Reporter announced that Nablo and Diamond's dispute had been settled and "Nablo's subsequent credit line [had] been amicably adjusted with payment of an unannounced sum to Nablo." The final determination of his writing credit was left to the SWG.
Although October and November Hollywood Reporter news items reported that Gay Nelson had been cast as "Hulda," a member of a "German spy ring," she does not appear in the finished picture. Other Hollywood Reporter news items include Dennis King and Cosmo Sardo in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. November 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items noted that background scenes were shot on location in Montreal, Canada. As reported in an November 18, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, United Artists Corp supplied 100% of the film's financing to producers Diamond and Samuel Bischoff.