Force of Evil
The power of the combine that drops a man “to the bottom of the world”.
It hides behind legal smokescreens and tries to take him in, a small businessman of sorts.
The business or industry is numbers, nickel-and-dime stuff you don’t think about. A gangster “from the beer days” squeezes everyone out and takes over, you work for him or you die.
The drama represents the edge of the precipice, the old mobs find a way back in to “a million-dollar proposition”, and there’s a legal way to run the policy racket, as a lottery.
Crowther noted a great director right off (New York Times), Variety figured “it is not a lucid exposť as filmed” and “a bit on the arty side”.
The immediate influence is felt in Kazan’s On the Waterfront (whence it is seen as the death of Astronaut Poole in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey), later directors famously admired the freshness and frankness on location.
Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here
Polonsky’s second film has the very same qualities of style as his first, but in color and widescreen.
The tale is a semi-historical account of the manhunt for a Paiute in 1909 between Banning and Twentynine Palms, and his death at Ruby Mountain.
The various means of apperceiving this story are brought to bear as white and Indian, East and West, old and young.
The objective clarity of that approach gives the pictures their great original beauty and makes this quite the bookend to Force of Evil.
The incident is understood as a fit of pique and something more, allowed to fester by inattention because of the sheriff’s thankless romance with the lady superintendent, a Radcliffe graduate and Johns Hopkins M.D. (another distraction is President Taft’s arrival at Riverside, the sheriff is required there in an official capacity).