The Enforcer (1951) – Film Review

the enforcer film review bluray

Directors: Bretaigne Windust, Raoul Walsh
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Zero Mostel, Ted de Corsia
Certificate: PG

By Sarah Morgan

It’s 66 years since Humphrey Bogart died following a battle with cancer.

the enforcer film review coverHe wasn’t what could be described as classically handsome. He wasn’t tall or muscular and he had a slight speech impediment. You might think that all of these things would count against him when he entered the acting profession following a stint in the US Navy, but not a bit of it. Bogart remains one of the biggest and instantly recognisable faces ever to grace the silver screen.


During his 26-year film career, he made more than 70 films, including classics such as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen (for which he won his only Oscar). He made a few duds too, but in between were many more that deserve to be better known – The Enforcer is certainly one of them.

Also known as Murder, Inc, it’s a taut little crime thriller which introduced the world to the terms ‘contract’ (to describe a deal to commit a murder) and ‘hit’ (the murder itself). Such details add authenticity to the story, which was inspired by a police investigation into a real-life gang of organised killers who were brought to justice in the early 1940s.

Bogart plays Assistant DA Martin Ferguson, who is distraught when the star witness in the trial of the leader of a murderous gang dies on the eve of his appearance in court. With his case now in tatters, Ferguson has to find a new way to gain a conviction, so much of the rest of the story is told in flashback as he works his way back through the evidence.

Shot in a compelling, fast-paced, semi-documentary style (mostly by an uncredited Raoul Walsh, who took over the production when original director Bretaigne Windust fell ill), The Enforcer is a mini-masterpiece, a lean piece of film-making with no wasted moments or scenes. Despite being just 85 minutes in length, it manages to pack in more action than many movies lasting two hours or more.

the enforcer film review

“Familiar faces”

As you’d expect, Bogart is as charismatic and impressive as ever in the lead role, but he’s surrounded by some fantastic character actors in supporting roles, including Orson Welles’ favourite Everett Sloane, who plays Mendoza, the man Ferguson is desperate to bring down. Sloane appears sparingly, but it’s a memorable appearance due to his ability to hold his own against Bogey.

Watch out too for such familiar faces as Zero Mostel, King Donovan and Ted de Corsia.

If you’re a fan of the genre, The Enforcer is a must. Even if you’re not, there’s much to admire here.

Special Features:
● High-Definition Transfer
● UK Blu-ray Premiere
● Optional English SDH Subtitles
● Still Gallery
The Enforcer is released on Blu-ray by Signal One, £12.99

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