(1949)4Craig ButlerKnock on Any Door undoubtedly was more powerful when it debuted in 1949, but this social message picture still packs a sizeable wallop today. Some viewers will feel that it is overly preachy and that it sometimes sacrifices dramatic niceties on the altar of social conscience. There's also a great deal of validity to this argument; still, there's enough passionate involvement on the part of Nicholas Ray that most will be willing to overlook the blatant manipulation and the textbook psychological and sociological approach that informs the film. Less easy to overlook is leading player John Derek. Undeniably handsome and possessed of a certain flair and presence, he also is only an adequate actor; while nothing that he does in Knock is ever wrong, he rarely surprises, and he lacks the sheer force of will that would make the character come truly alive. Fortunately, Ray knows how to direct around this defect, filling the screen with such power and atmosphere that it compensates for the mere adequacy of Derek's performance. Ray has no such problems with Humphrey Bogart, playing against type and coming off beautifully, or with George Macready, who knows just what buttons to push throughout. Knock is somewhat dated, but it's still engrossing and compelling.