A noir with several, clever scenes, some fine cinematography and no shortage of violence, Raw Deal is a better than average, crime story, but it lacks plausibility at times, and telegraphs its upcoming twists. Noir genius John Alton handles the camera here and deftly cloaks the whole film in shadows. As the film opens, Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe) is visited by both Pat (Claire Trevor) and Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt) in prison. This scene sparkles with some smart dialogue and is a nice warm-up to the love triangle that follows. The gangsters in Raw Deal are pretty mean with Raymond Burr leading the pack as he scalds a party girl with his birthday flambeé. One problem with Raw Deal is the lack of believable chemistry between Joe and Ann. She likes Joe, but quickly changes her mind and attempts to call the police after he breaks out of prison. Not long after, she declares her love for him again after shooting the man who's attempted to kill him. Why Joe so prefers Ann to his longtime girlfriend Pat is also not made clear. On the screen, Joe and Ann don't seem to have much in common and the attraction seems vague at best. Though, otherwise, this is an entertaining, if not terribly artful noir, with Alton's camerawork standing out more than Anthony Mann's direction.
by Adam Bregman review