The Narrow Margin

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If you thought Narrow Margin was simply a Gene Hackman film, you are missing the original and the better of the two films. The original is a B movie film noir classic. Charles McGraw plays on edge cop Walter Brown who travels to Chicago to escort a key witness back to California to testify against the mob. McGraw is escorting Mrs. Frankie Neall played boldly by Marie Windsor (Support Your Local Gunfighter). Boarding the train for California, the plot thickens as the mob is attempting to find out who the witness is and have her “bumped off.” Along the way Detective Brown meets another woman and after several communications and run ins with her on the train he feels she may be in danger being seen with him. Not to give any more away here…if your curious check it out.

Charles McGraw’s role is really nothing new for him, playing a hard nosed cop, although he does it very well. The outstanding performance of the film has to be Marie Windsor, she is very outspoken and has a very strong character, especially for a woman in film in this era.  She has some great dialog and doesn’t mind standing toe to toe with the guys. One of the great lines is when McGraw informs her that she makes in sick at his stomach, and her quick reply is “Well, use your own sink.”

Hats off to director Richard Fleisher (Soylent Green, Tora, Tora, Tora) who does a wonderful job making a suspenseful film with practically no budget. Something a few directors these days should pay attention to, actually making a film that is story and performance driven rather than inserting massive special effects to cover up the fact that there isn’t much plot to work with. If you enjoy Hitchcock films, this is one you are sure to enjoy as it has plenty of suspense, drama, and a plot twist here and there. At a mere 71 minutes in running time, you can afford to put this on your watch list. I highly recommend this film, a film noir classic!