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FILMS THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW: Part 1, The Narrow Margin

Lists of must-see films for any self-respecting fan almost always include Casablanca and Citizen Kane, and deservedly so. But there are so many other worthy pictures which are often overlooked. So, from film-fan to film-fan, here’s a recommendation from our must-see list.

THE NARROW MARGIN (1952)
Director: Richard Fleischer
Starring: Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor
Writers: Earl Felton Screenwriter. Story: Martin Goldsmith Story and Jack Leonard
Editor: Robert Swink

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Detective Sargent Walter Brown (McGraw) must reluctantly guard a gangster’s widow named Frankie Neall (Windsor) from Chicago to safety in Los Angeles where she will testify about her husband’s nefarious dealings.

Brown’s every word to Neall just drips with venom. Most of his contempt for Neall stems from the fact that he holds her partially responsible for the death of his partner, Detective Sargent Gus Forbes (Don Beddoe).

No need to worry about Neall, though. Tougher than nails, old boots and steel combined, she is more than a match for Brown. In hot pursuit: three hitmen who don’t even know what Mrs. Neall looks like, just that she is on the train.

In order to safeguard her identity, Neall is secreted away in a private berth adjoining Brown’s. Also on board: the very sweet Ann Sinclair (Jacqueline White) who is travelling with her son, Tommy (Gordon Gebert), and his nanny, Mrs. Troll (Queenie Leonard).

Brown has taken a liking to this family and naturally wants that no ill should come their way. But Neall does not seem to care about anyone but herself. That her presence is a threat to the family’s safety is of absolutely no interest to her, which does not make her any more endearing to Brown.

Does Brown hate Neall enough to turn her over to the bad guys, one of whom has even offered Brown a bribe? Enough to kill her himself?

Most of the film takes place on a train, so the claustrophobia, tension, and twists are almost palpable. Filmed in approximately two weeks, it is proof that you don’t need a lot of time to create something truly outstanding.

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RATING: Five Whistles

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HOW TO WATCH: Amazon 

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IMAGES: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

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OTHER MOVIES TO KNOW:

Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

H.J. Saunders, MA, CET

An exercise physiologist and personal trainer, H.J. has been involved in the health, fitness, and recreational industries for over 25-years. H.J. is an internationally recognized fitness innovator and crusader, developing comprehensive exercise and well-care programs for individuals and organizations ranging from neighborhood elementary schools, to multi-million dollar corporations and institutions He has also been involved with government initiatives such as The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent & Decrease Overweight & Obesity, and The Physical Activity Guidelines and National Plan for Americans. Articles and interviews have appeared in local and national magazines, periodicals, and on radio and television. Shihan Saunders is a practicing 6th degree black belt and teaches Isshinryu Karate to people of all ages. H.J. is founder and president of The Youth Fitness Coalition (www.cofitness.net). He is also a member of SAG-AFTRA.

Ylana Kellar, MFA

Ylana is an actress‚ writer and singer whose credits include: Playing Alexina (Theatre of Necessity), In the Family Way (produced and directed by Rachel Gordon), and Everything’s Coming Up Ro’ses (web series created by and starring Roetta Collins‚ directed by Lee Eypper). On the other side of the camera, Ylana has associate-produced several travelogue shorts for The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park Visitors Center (Middlebrook, Missouri)‚ and the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower Visitors Center (Hartford‚ Illinois)‚ all of which were produced and directed by Geralyn Abinader | gaMedia Group. Ylana currently serves on the SAG-AFTRA New York Local Women’s Committee. She is a former member of the boards of directors of New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and Women in the Arts and Media Coalition. She has produced numerous entertainment / arts based programs, and has served as a panelist and moderator for such programs as well. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA (www.ylana.net).

In their spare time H.J. and Ylana watch too many movies, read too many liner notes, and run the on-line vintage yard-sale Rita’s Retros www.ritasretros.com.