Knock on Any Door (1949)

March 20th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Nicholas Ray | Cast: John Derek, Humphrey Bogart, Allene Roberts. | US, 1949, 100’

The first of two features Ray made for Santana, Humphrey Bogart’s short-lived independent production company, Knock on Any Door unfolds against the poverty and crime of 1930s Chicago, a setting that drew upon Ray’s Midwestern youth and Depression-era political activism.

John Derek, here in his debut, later became so notorious as a middle-aged man whose leading ladies got conspicuously younger with each succeeding film, it comes as quite a shock to see him here, in his debut, as a genuinely young kid (complete with an “Introducing” credit) from the slums Pretty Boy Romano who lives by Al Capone’s creed: “Live fast, die young, and have a good looking corpse!”.

Photographed by Burnett Guffey who later won an Oscar for ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and anticipating the same director’s Rebel Without a Cause by six years. Humphrey Bogart is at his most personable playing the lawyer who cares, with an absorbing slug-fest in a boiling hot courtroom between him and district attorney George Macready. @RichardChatten




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