Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
Oh and check out Raft and Paul Muni in the original SCARFACE (1932) if
you haven't seen it already.