Movies and Film

A Dangerous Game – Johnny Allegro (1949)

Falling for the wrong person and knowing that they are indeed just that, never turns out well for those doing the falling, especially when it comes to film noir and yet, it never stops anyone from actually doing so. Such is the case with Johnny Allegro, which happens to be both the title of the movie and the name of the lead character. Johnny knows that he should not be doing what he is doing, that he should just concentrate on the job and do what he was tasked to do, paying no attention to Glenda as played by Nina Foch, but the laws of attraction are funny and so are those of the heart and thus separating her from his mission is just not possible.

There are many tropes to film noir and falling for that person with a bit of danger and mystery around them is just one of them with many of the better noirs centred around these specific character relationships. The shady guy with the underworld connections always seems to attract the most beautiful and innocent of women, the man or woman released from prison always drawn to those who are innately good or that woman who is hiding something with the aloof, yet passionate attitude, drawing men into her web like the most dangerous of spiders. There is a certain doom around those who come together as such and it is the case here with Johnny as portrayed by George Raft and Glenda, and that riddle that she represents turns out to be a husband who is the real criminal of the picture, played to perfection by George MacReady. She is the forbidden fruit and yet, he must have her and she him and when it is all said and done, there must be a dead body as the genre demands one.

The movie is not overly long as it plays out and it does so in a timely fashion, never wasting a moment as the plot unfolds into something that Johnny might not be able to handle. Morgan, the villain of the piece, makes it hard as he trusts nobody and just when it seems like he might be able to put a bit of faith in Johnny, the truth comes out and the last few scenes of the film are exquisite as Johnny becomes the beast to Morgan’s hunter, death at his heels.

Johnny Allegro is a very tight thriller with Raft and Foch at their best, MacReady bringing up the rear and director Ted Tetzlaff stitching it all together like the best of puzzles, a picture that might fly under the radar when it comes to film noir, but one that absolutely satisfies.

4 out of 5

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