Gunman in the Streets (November 16/03)
Though Gunman in the Streets isn't a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, it is notable for the fact that it contains a truly unlikable central character. Dane Clark's Eddie Roback pushes people around to get what he wants and routinely puts innocent bystanders in jeopardy without feeling an ounce of guilt for it. Were he to make an appearance in a contemporary film, he'd certainly be positioned as an evil villain; someone whose demise the audience would applaud.
The movie kicks off with Roback on the lam for murder, though there's no doubt in our minds that's he's guilty (a Hitchcock style, innocent-man-on-the-run flick this is not). Ex-lover Denise (Simone Signoret) unwittingly finds herself providing temporary shelter for Roback, while a diligent inspector (played by Fernand Gravet) is hot on his trail.
Gunman in the Streets is a gritty little movie, filled with the kind of stylized dialogue and tough guy posturing one expects from a film noir. Director Frank Tuttle takes a little too long in getting things going, spending more time than necessary on sequences involving Roback's attempts to hide from the law, but eventually redeems himself by turning the characters into more than just cardboard cut-outs. Though we grow to hate Roback more and more as the film progresses, Denise is eventually turned into someone that isn't just a damsel in distress. As embodied by legendary French actress Signoret, the character is shown to have a tremendous amount of power over the intimidating Roback - which certainly can't be said for Denise's perpetually abused male confidant.
As Roback, Clark does a remarkable job of keeping the character's tone even throughout the film. It'd be logical to assume that he'd eventually soften, especially when talking to Denise, but nothing doing; Roback is a tough guy without exception, right up to the bitter end.