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The Narrow Margin

Overview

The Narrow Margin is generally considered a "model" B picture; some film buffs go farther than that, labelling this 1952 RKO suspenser as the best low-budget studio production ever made. Nail-hard detective Walter Brown Charles McGraw is assigned to protect gangster's widow Mrs. Neall Marie Windsor as she rides the train from Chicago to LA, en route to testifying at a grand jury. There's no love lost between the ill-tempered Neall and Brown, especially since Brown's partner Don Beddoe was killed by mobsters while...
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Overview

The Narrow Margin is generally considered a "model" B picture; some film buffs go farther than that, labelling this 1952 RKO suspenser as the best low-budget studio production ever made. Nail-hard detective Walter Brown Charles McGraw is assigned to protect gangster's widow Mrs. Neall Marie Windsor as she rides the train from Chicago to LA, en route to testifying at a grand jury. There's no love lost between the ill-tempered Neall and Brown, especially since Brown's partner Don Beddoe was killed by mobsters while shielding Neall from harm. On the train, Brown makes the acquaintance of a likeable woman Jacqueline White and her playful young son. He also comes in contact with a rather secretive fat man Paul Maxey, who may well be a mob assassin. Not long before the train pulls into California, Brown is approached by small-time crook Peter Brocco, who offers the detective a great deal of money if he'll permit Neall to be silenced. Brown appears to be tempted, but this is only a smokescreen to throw the crooks off the trail. The Narrow Margin was remade and unnecessarily padded and attenuated in 1990.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by filmmaker William Friedkin, with audio interview excerpts of director Richard Fleischer; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Originally titled The Target, RKO's noir programmer The Narrow Margin (1952) was a hard-boiled masterpiece of gangland-flavored tough-guy dialogue and of economy in setting and pace. The plot contrivances, shootings, taut pace, and a major narrative twist in the third act helped it become an instant audience favorite and earn enough critical clout for an Oscar nomination as Best Original Screenplay. Practically a primer on how to produce a B-movie, it began its life as the lower half of a double bill with Tembo (1952), a laughable African safari adventure from star-director-producer Howard Hill, promoted as the "World's Greatest Archer." The son of famed cartoonist Max Fleischer (the creator of Popeye and Betty Boop), director Richard Fleischer reached the high water mark of his low budget career with The Narrow Margin. Having already won a Short Subject Oscar in 1948, the former newsreel editor's career took off on the popularity and reputation of the film, and he was soon directing glossy A-list projects like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), although he never completely gave up his affinity for crime melodrama. Critical respect for The Narrow Margin grew over the years until, at around the same time as a big-budget 1990 remake, a new print of the original was screened on the revival circuit. Without a bit of irony, The Narrow Margin was once again shown as half of a double bill, this time with the lurid classic Detour (1946), to which The Narrow Margin was often favorably compared (both films featured scripts co-written by Martin Goldsmith). With apologies to Howard Hill, most aficionados of lower-tier Hollywood noir consider The Narrow Margin one of the greatest B-movies ever made.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/5/2005
  • UPC: 053939725421
  • Original Release: 1952
  • Rating:

  • Source: Turner Home Ent
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:11:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles McGraw Walter Brown
Marie Windsor Mrs. Neall
Jacqueline White Ann Sinclair
Gordon Geberl Tommy Sinclair
Queenie Leonard Mrs. Troll
David Clarke Kemp
Peter Virgo Densel
Don Beddoe Gus Forbes
Paul Maxey Jennings
Ivan Browning
Mike Lally Taxi Driver
George Sawava Reporter
Tony Merrill Officer Allen
Milt Kibbee Tenant
Don Haggerty Detective Wilson
Johnny Lee Waiter
Napoleon Whiting Redcap
Franklin Parker Telegraph Attendant
Jasper Weldon Porter
Harry Harvey Train Conductor
Donald Dillaway Reporter
Howard Mitchell Train Conductor
Will Lee Newsstand Owner
Technical Credits
Richard Fleischer Director
Albert S. D'Agostino Art Director
George E. Diskant Cinematographer
Earl Felton Screenwriter
Martin G. Goldsmith Screenwriter
Jack Leonard Screenwriter
Jack Okey Art Director
Stanley Crea Rubin Producer
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
William L. Stevens Set Decoration/Design
Robert Swink Editor
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:06]
2. Her Escort [5:36]
3. Hitman Strikes [2:50]
4. Keeping Distance [3:00]
5. Boarding the Train [3:41]
6. His Move to Make [3:17]
7. Cabin Search [5:22]
8. Business Proposition [4:41]
9. Too Many Oats [3:01]
10. Some Explaining to Do [4:47]
11. Colorado Stopover [3:05]
12. No One Knows but Us [4:52]
13. I Want to Live [3:09]
14. In Business for Keeps [4:49]
15. No Gravy Train Deal [2:32]
16. Innocent Bystanders [3:36]
17. Played for a Sucker [4:47]
18. Tough Spot [4:44]
19. No More Running [2:19]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Commentary by William Friedkin With Richard Fleischer
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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