Or “Barely Visible Stripes,” as it was originally called, before they made the title card. Then they had to change everything. The posted. The contracts. The “Barely Visible Stripes” underwear tie-ins.

It begins here, in Sing Sing, a prison that’s not so bleak it still can’t look like a model, even though it’s not:

Our hero is a con on parole, looking to go straight:

He’s hampered by his buddy, who’s also showering with him in this picture, but we’ll get to that. George Raft: there’s a fellow whose star simply hasn't shone as brightly with the passing of the ages. There’s a few moment where he has a certain presence - the fellow can wear a hat in a way that makes you think that fellow can wear a hat - but he’s all lumber in the acting department, and his voice is high and nasal. Yet he was a tough guy. Known now mostly as the guy who turned down every role Bogart ever had, including marrying Bacall. (Well, no, but you wouldn‘t be surprised.

After he gets out of the big house, he goes back to the old neighborhood to meet his long-suffering mother:   

Well, no. But this is such a staple it’s in every good-crook movie Warner Brothers ever made. 

Let’s meet Ma:

That’s Chester Bergenson, who played Ma in 326 movies. Just kidding; it's a lady-type person. Now let’s meet the obligatory old girlfriend, who’s a professional bobblehead impersonator with a line smugging yardsticks on the side:

Raft tries to get a job, but he keeps getting turned down because he’s a con on parole. Eventually he finds work at a department store gift-wrapping department, run by one of the Dead End Kids: 

Leo Gorcey, also a Bowery Boy, for about 20 years. One of the most unlikeable faces and personas in movies. He could be 67 years old and he'd still remind you of the bully who thought it was clever to repeat everything you said.

Who else is working the store? GAH!

It’s the guy from last Friday’s “100 Mysteries.” Seeing him turn around made me actually   sit up in surprise, like he’s decided to stalk me through old movies. 

As is required of all WB gangster movies, the Good Crook has a brother he wants to stay on the square, on the level, or “parallel to d’ groun’,” as they say in their charming argot. Here’s the brother. Recognize him? 

William Holden. Supposedly he said “I hated that bastard” about this fellow:

Yes, it’s Bogart in his pre-leading man days, pitching woo. You know where this movie is going before you see it: Good Crook Raft will be forced back into crime by a cruel uncaring world, but will maintain his tarnished sense of right and wrong through all the tribulations the world heaps on his lid. Bogart will be the Bad-Good Crook, and there will be really Bad Crooks to make Bogart look better. Bogart will die - but since it’s latter bad-guy Bogart, he gets to go out like a man, guns blazing after he's said something along the lines of "I guess this is it, and that's okay," instead of begging for mercy like a coward.

The Dame, by the way, is Lee Patrick, who played molls and broads with great grit and cheer. She pops up years later in "Vertigo" as "woman mistaken for Madelaine." Biographies shaved ten years off her true age, but time did not.


Is it noir?

No. It’s a Warner Brothers gangster movie. But that doesn’t mean it can’t give us a nice shot from time to time:



If nothing else, it shows that women aged different back then. Or weren’t women at all: