There are Bogie movies and there are movies that star Humphrey Bogart. As any fan will tell you the difference between the two is vast, and, unfortunately for many, THE ENFORCER falls in the latter category. Don't let the young Bogie on the jacket cover, the one in trenchcoat and fedora, fool you. There aren't any Ingrid Bergmans and misty memories of Paris in this one, or even a hysterical Mary Astor for Bogie to refuse to take a fall for. Heck, THE ENFORCER doesn't even have a toothless and demented Walter Huston doing a cackle dance in the mad desert sun. THE ENFORCER is a cop show, a police procedural starring Humphrey Bogart as Martin Ferguson, the `hard-hitting' Brooklyn district attorney who cracked the Murder Incorporated syndicate. Imagine Sam Spade waking up one morning and deciding he'd rather be Joe Friday and you know all you need to about his character. Understandably, Bogie films are as opium to his legion of fans, while Humphrey Bogart movies are always interesting even though they may be too easily dismissed, or something worse, by the hard core fan. Ever give an empty pipe to an opium eater? To put it another way, the answer is `yes,' and the question is: Could a Bogart movie be good if he plays a relatively bland character that wouldn't have stretched the acting skills of a William Bendix? THE ENFORCER is a tough and sometimes brutal movie. If Bogart's character lacks the edgy testiness of his more memorable creations, the movie compensates with a cast full of rough and rude secondary characters played by some of Hollywood's best tough guys. Veteran actor Roy Roberts plays Ferguson's sidekick Capt. Frank Nelson, a no-nonsense cop who would have fit in comfortably in Clint Eastwood's 1976 Dirty Harry movie of the same name. Capt. Nelson doesn't savor his wickedness to the extent Dirty Harry does, but the movie does, with a straight face, give him these lines of dialogue - "What's wrong with the law that we can't touch him? Our kinds of laws are designed to protect the innocent. It's not enough that we know a man is guilty. We have to prove it." I had to wind through that speech twice to make sure I heard it right. Later Nelson says this to a thug he'd just wrestled to the ground - "Answer me straight or I'll blow your head off! Where are the bodies?" Dirty Harry would've been proud. Capt. Nelson may be a tough guy, but he's got nothing on the syndicate crime boys. Veteran actor Jack Lambert plays an oft psychotic character named Philadelphia who fakes a nervous breakdown to hide out in a mental institution from the omnipresent, and omni-vengeful, Albert Mendoza (Everett Sloane), the progenitor of a new type of gangsterism that he calls Murder, Inc., a murder for hire outfit. One of the fun aspects of the movie is to see the police struggle -What are you talking about!? Speak English! - when confronted with the then new thug terms for hired killings. Words like "hit" and "contract" had to be introduced somewhere, and it appears THE ENFORCER was their coming out film. If there is such a thing, I'm an aficionado of old movie character actors, and Sloane and Lambert are very good in their limited screen time. Also adding welcome spice to the stew is a young Zero Mostel playing a naïve gunsel named Babe who finds himself out of his element, and over his head, in this brutal environment. The best performance, though, is given by Ted de Corsia as Rico, Mendoza's lieutenant and the only one with the direct evidence needed, as the movie puts it, to send Mendoza `to the chair.' De Corsia, who looks a bit like a beefy Robert Mitchum, steals every scene he's in, usually playing it brute-mean, but ratcheting it down when he learns that the jailed Mendoza is aware that the birds are singing and that he, Rico, is the ripest pigeon out there. Simply put, it's a tour-de-force performance. I liked THE ENFORCER a lot. Bogart is certainly more than adequate in the undemanding role of the determined district attorney and the supporting cast is very strong. My only beef was with the movie's ending, which I thought was a little too climatic and Hollywood for an otherwise verite film. That aside, a very strong recommendation for this crime film. "
Amusing crime story
kennedy19 | wakefield, ma USA | 07/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This obviously is not Bogart's most famous or memorable film, but it is an entertaining film noir that holds your interest from start to finish. They don't make 'em like this no more. The plot involves Bogart as a D.A., whose star witness in bringing the head of a murder racket to justice dies before the trial. In a lengthy flashback, Bogart retraces the case from the beginning, looking for some bit of testimony that might help him nail the killer before he goes scot free. Bogart is good as his usual tough-guy self, and it's fun to watch the erie black-and-white cinematography. While it's nothing to write home about, it is a good cheap thriller, much better than many of the big-budget ones that have come out since then."
Good crime thriller
Virgil | Chapel Hill, NC | 10/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a decent thriller circa 1950 with Bogart in the role of DA for the jurisdiction. Well acted with a decent script it delivers. With language such as "hit" and "contract" now commonplace in the action/thriller genre it's a little odd to hear them used as if they were new term (and they were then).The story centers around the breaking of a crime syndicate whose work consists of murder for hire. Much of it is told in flashback with few flagging moments. This isn't Bogart's best, but you won't be disappointed. This is a water-down version of a real life event based in the mid-40's in NY City. Another film, Murder, Inc with Peter Falk is a grittier tale of the same incident. Look for Zero Mostel in a supporting role and for the work of Raoul Walsh who has several uncredited directing scenes."
Heart Pounding Film of Murder for Hire
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 02/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favorite Bogie film with our hero playing a tough Brooklyn District Attorney who has to find how and why witnesses are being killed. It is not a romantic film like "Casablanca", a cult-classic like "The Maltese Falcon," a social commentary like "Knock on Any Door." It is simply the most suspensful of all Bogie flicks. The depiction of Mendoza, the man who invented murder for profit, is terrifying. This is spine tingling film noir with a documentary nuance. Get scared...don't miss it."
Great Bogie-NO, Good Bogie-YES
gejome | Oakland CA | 05/23/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After viewing Casablanca or Key Largo, this flick lets the audience down slowly. If Bogie never made a bad movie, and he probably didn't, the acting doesn't come up short, but the plot does. Ifthe viewer just wants to view as many of Bogies movies as possible, then this film is worth a look-see, but don't epect the classic Humprey Bogart here ?"