Force of Evil (1948) - Rotten Tomatoes

Force of Evil (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Joe Morse wants to consolidate all the small-time numbers racket operators into a single powerful organization. But, his older brother is one of these small operators, and he wants things to stay the way they are, rather than dealing with the gangsters who dominate the big-time.


John Garfield
as Joe Morse
Beatrice Pearson
as Doris Lowry
Thomas Gomez
as Leo Morse
Marie Windsor
as Edna Tucker
Howland Chamberlain
as Freddie Bauer
Roy Roberts
as Ben Tucker
Paul McVey
as Hobe Wheelock
Tim Ryan
as Johnson
Beau Bridges
as Frankie
Sid Tomack
as `Two & Two' Taylor
Georgia Backus
as Sylvia Morse
Jan Dennis
as Mrs. Bauer
Bert Hanlon
as Cigar Man
Robert B. Williams
as Elevator Starter
Barbara Woodell
as Receptionist
Bill Neff
as Law Clerk
Frank Pharr
as Bootblack
Joe Warfield
as Collector
Perry Ivins
as Mr. Middleton
Cliff Clark
as Police Lieutenant
Larry J. Blake
as Detective
Phil Tully
as Policeman
Max Wagner
as Policeman
Chuck Hamilton
as Policeman
Carl Saxe
as Policeman
Fred Somers
as Policeman
George Magrill
as Policeman
Ralph Dunn
as Policeman
Jim Davies
as Policeman
Bob Reeves
as Policeman
Bud Wiser
as Policeman
Ray Hyke
as Policeman
Budd Fine
as Butcher
Margo Woode
as Receptionist
Esther Somers
as Mrs. Lowry
Mervin Williams
as Goodspeed
Paul Fix
as Ficco
Will Lee
as Waiter
David McKim
as Cashier
Joey Ray
as Gunman
Eileen Coghlin
as Secretary
Barbara Stone
as Secretary
Estelle Etterre
as Secretary
Paul Newlan
as Policeman
Helen Eby-Rock
as Secretary
Jim Toney
as Sorter
Jim Drum
as Banker
Milton Kibbee
as Richards
Roger Cole
as Attorney
Jay Eaton
as Attorney
Carl Hanson
as Attorney
Ralph Brooks
as Attorney
Bert Davidson
as Attorney
Murray Alper
as Comptroller
Robert Strong
as Court Reporter
Louise Saraydar
as Hatcheck Girl
Paul H. Frees
as Elevator Operator
Ray Hirsch
as Newsboy
Richard Reeves
as Policeman
Ann Duncan Crimmins
as Norval's Girl Friend
Edward Peil Sr.
as Counterman
View All

News & Interviews for Force of Evil

Critic Reviews for Force of Evil

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2)

For all its unpleasant nature, it must be said that this film is a dynamic crime-and-punishment drama, brilliantly and broadly realized.

August 8, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A poetic, terse, beautifully exact, and highly personal re-creation of the American underworld, with an unpunctuated Joycean screenplay by Polonsky that is perhaps unique in the American cinema.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

An exciting, fast-moving picture which reveals crime in a glaringly vicious light.

August 20, 2021 | Rating: 2/3 | Full Review…

The film cleverly uses illicit numbers running as a metaphor for unethical business practices in post-war America

January 9, 2015 | Rating: 87/100 | Full Review…

Force of Evil is a masterpiece, usually lumped in with films noir of the period, but unique.

August 22, 2012 | Full Review…

One of the major themed films of the '40s.

November 12, 2004 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Force of Evil


"Force of Evil," starring John Garfield, is a serious and heavy noir depicting corruption in New York in the early days after WWII. It could have been a great film, but it drowns in muddled and overly complex storytelling. I could barely keep track of the characters. The story threads I could keep track of were phenomenal. Also great was the titanic performance from supporting actor Thomas Gomez, who plays the brother of Garfield. I had never heard of Gomez until this, but I see that he was nominated for an Oscar the year before "Force of Evil" came out (for "Ride the Pink Horse," a film I've never heard of). So clearly he was a heavy hitter in his day. It's a shame that his reputation faded over time. Unfortunately, alongside everything that's great in "Force of Evil" is a ton of overly complex storytelling that must have left 98% of the audience in 1948 scratching their heads. No wonder this film garnered no Oscar nominations.

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer


Here it is, 60 years after the release of this cinematic pearl, and I'm just now discovering it. The only thing that beats watching a film noir classic again and again is watching one for the very first time. Thank you John Garfield.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Plausible facts on this one.Aggressive till it bleeds.I saw this film on a cine-club somewhere in Athens.All 5 of us who attended were shocked at the boldness of that period,no,wait: the undercover "beauty" of it.McCarthy was approaching and if Polonsky was given better chances,he'd do miracles with noir stories like this.The edge of small-time con-men as an alternative title.

Dimitris Springer
Dimitris Springer

Super Reviewer

Force of Evil Quotes

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