The Threat

Screening on Film
Directed by Felix E. Feist.
With Michael O’Shea, Virginia Grey, Charles McGraw.
US, 1949, 16mm, black & white, 66 min.
Print source: HFA

This noir is so hilariously mean, raw-boned and brawny it’s absolutely delightful. B-movie uber-alpha Charles McGraw is Kluger, a murderer who breaks outta Folsom Prison to keep his promise—the titular threat—to exact revenge on the detective and judge who put him behind bars. Within minutes (Kluger and this sixty-six-minute movie are in a hurry) both threatened men are kidnapped, as is Kluger’s snitch girlfriend, just for hat-trick fun. Kluger briskly embarks with his henchmen and hostages on some cockamamie scheme involving—I think?—a car hidden in a moving van, some ham radios and a peephole. Whatever! Frisky-for-payback Kluger is as ruthless as the brief running time needs him to be. How often is a movie character so clearly defined by budgetary tightness? So satisfying! McGraw burst into movies as one of the hitmen who snuff out Burt Lancaster in the opening minutes of The Killers, and he didn’t waste much time in the roles that followed, striding with purposeful dispatch across all sorts of bottom lines—The Narrow Margin, Armored Car Robbery, Spartacus and even The Birds. Watch what this gentleman does with a chair!

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