The Narrow Margin (1952)
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Great noir. The plot's a bit contrived but it gets really tense and there's some fantastic noir dialogue.
The Narrow Margin starts out with stock noir characters and at an efficient 72 minutes, doesn't allow them to stray very far off type, but there are a couple twists on the premise of a copper keeping a witness alive during a long train ride that make it worth one's while. But more than that, director Richard Fleischer crafts a surprisingly modern-looking film, not at all what you'd expect in 1952, with a more than usually claustrophobic train, and a dynamic, often hand-held camera that keeps us tight in the action. Most older train movies obviously take out walls so they can shoot the story comfortably, and so they look comfortable. Definitely not the case here, and it raises the tension considerably. It helps that the villains are a good match for the protagonist, and that the cat and mouse game is filled with the believable obstacles stemming from the well-realized environment.
Fairly good but how annoying is that young boy?
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #44 in IMDb's Film-noir Top 50
This movie ranks #82 in TSPDT 100 Essential Noir Films
This movie ranks #82 in TSPDT 1000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #269 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #338 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #573 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #601 in Doubling the Canon