My Review of ‘The Bribe’ (1949)

This is an interesting film, but not because it’s the most awesome film noir ever made.

It begins in media res, with a federal agent named Rigby (fans of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, feel free to laugh) staring moodily into a rain-lashed window, pondering how he’d gotten where he was in narration. The rain-lashed window magically turns into a flashback.

“Can we interest you in a three-way?” (Image via AvoxHome)

We learn that Rigby (played by Robert Taylor) is there to investigate a black market racket in war-surplus aircraft parts. His targets are a married couple, Tug Hintten (played by John Hodiak) and his wife, Elizabeth (played by Ava Gardner). He also meets a bunch of sweaty people on the island of Carlotta (that’s right, keep laughing), including shady dude J.J. Bealer (played by Charles Laughton) and a boozy ex-pilot named Carwood (played by Vincent Price).

“Alone at last.” (Image via Allwatchit)

The plot is, well, I don’t think predictable is quite the word. It’s just so familiar. At times, the movie almost smacks of slightly dark romantic suspense or noir-ish melodrama, which is a shame. Because the actors in this thing are so awesome. And the choreography of the ending is amazing.

“Hey, Sweaty! How you like my white suit?”

So, it’s not great film noir. It’s fun, it’s got intrigue, sweaty people, and a guy in a white suit balanced on the horns of a dilemma. How much can he trust his instinct for people? Who can he trust in this situation? What he thinks is the truth may actually be a complete misunderstanding. Or is it? Those are the questions driving this particular protagonist, through a plot that may miss a few steps here and there.

“I could’ve been doing Shakespeare.” (Image via The Sound of Vincent Price)

If nothing else, it’s a good for a few laughs, as you recognize the players from Steve Martin’s movie.

The End (Almost) (Image via Film Noir Blog)

Four stars for effort? 🙂

This is a good one to MST3K your way through! 🙂

If only Humphrey Bogart could’ve been in this! 🙂


Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay by Marguerite Roberts

This entry was posted in 1940s Films, Crime Drama, Crime Movies, Film Noir, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Review of ‘The Bribe’ (1949)

  1. moviefanman says:

    A very underappreciated Noir IMO, the sweltering atmosphere definitely adds to the intrigue. I saw it recently on TCM’s Noir Alley. Eddie Muller stated that while stars Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner were carrying on a liaison in real life, there was no on-screen chemistry between them, which I’m kinda mixed on as Taylor’s character isn’t sure at first if Gardner’s character is deeply involved in the smuggling, so he really can’t become fully attached to her until he has some inkling. Believe it or not I wanted to see the film after seeing the homage paid to it in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      Yeah, I know. I just had to see this because of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. 🙂

      I agree that the film is highly atmospheric. Sweaty as all get out! 🙂

      I also have mixed feelings about the romance part of it. It didn’t really lack chemistry to me so much as … kind of frustrate me as a viewer. It’s like, “Why don’t you just ask her?” or “Why don’t you just tell him?” There was more of that than in the usual double-cross story. It’s much more like a romance that way. 🙂


  2. I’ve GOT to see this film if it’s featured in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. When I last saw this film, I wondered where some of the “tropical” scenes had come from. I can’t wait to watch it. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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