Desperate (1947)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Desperate Photos

Movie Info

The first entry in director Anthony Mann's series of noir films, Desperate is a disturbing twist on traditional moral values, responsibility, and guilt. Steve Randall (Steve Brodie) is a truckdriver who accidently is involved with a gang in the murder of a cop. One of the gang is captured, convicted, and sentenced to die in the electric chair. To save his fellow gang member. Walt Radak (Raymond Burr) threatens to murder Steve's wife Anne (Audrey Long) if Steve doesn't confess to the crime. Steve and Anne flee to an isolated farm but they are found, leading to a violent conclusion. Mann directs with an assured style and creates a world in which physical violence is very real and very brutal. Steve Randall , while innocent, runs for his life without even considering the consequences of his actions. Mann creates a grim world, hearless, unjust and driven by desperation.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Pictures


Steve Brodie
as Steve Randall
Raymond Burr
as Walt Radak
Audrey Long
as Mrs. Anne Randall
Douglas Fowley
as Pete Lavitch
William Challee
as Reynolds
Paul E. Burns
as Uncle Jan
Ilka Gruning
as Aunt Klara
Larry Nunn
as Al Radak
Robert Bray
as Policeman
Carl Kent
as Detective
Carol Forman
as Mrs. Roberts
Erville Alderson
as Simon Pringle
Teddy Infur
as Richard
Ralf Harolde
as Doctor with Walt
Bill Wallace
as Policeman
Carl Saxe
as Policeman
Jay Norris
as Villager
Dick Elliott
as Hat Lewis
Charles Flynn
as State Trooper
Art Miles
as Truck Driver
Glen Knight
as Truck Driver
Hans Herbert
as Rev. Alex
Michael Visaroff
as Villager
Elena Warren
as Mrs. Oliver
Robert Clarke
as Bus Driver
Netta Packer
as Woman on Train
George Anderson
as Man on Train
Donald Kerr
as Vendor on Train
Frank O'Connor
as Conductor
William Norton Bailey
as Traveling Salesman
Marshall Ruth
as Traveling Salesman
Jack Baxley
as Dr. Wilson
Ernie S. Adams
as Villager
Joe Recht
as Bellhop
Eddie Parks
as Mr. Franks
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Critic Reviews for Desperate

All Critics (4)

[Has] Mann's sense of coiled violence, just waiting to unload.

Full Review… | July 16, 2010
Combustible Celluloid

The story is standard urban crime stuff, but the director throws in a treasure trove of flourishes.

Full Review… | May 5, 2010
East Bay Express

Nicely done crime thriller, with some great visual set pieces.

Full Review… | August 9, 2007
Classic Film and Television

Anthony Mann is a master at directing these cheapie films and making them look stylish.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Desperate


Great direction and cinematography, pretty good acting, but a mediocre script. Sadie really disliked this one, and she let me know while we were watching.

Justin Remer
Justin Remer

Meh. Ho-hum cat-and-mouse noir in which a truck driver gets imbroiled in a deadly heist and has to protect himself from the law, and his wife from the gangsters. The photography allows for some nice moments, but the plot is pretty formulaic. The real problems is that the lead actors Steve Brodie and Audrey Lane fail to inspire, they're too earnest and one-dimensional. Worthwhile for the cinematography, tense climax, and Raymond Burr. Otherwise kind of blah.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

Desperate starts off as a hokey enough and paint-by-numbers film noir thriller about a good guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. The story's straightforward and frankly, its not exactly something you haven't seen before. But what makes Desperate a bit better is director Anthony Mann's direction and the way he takes a reasonably lukewarm story then builds and builds--right up to a fantastic stairway climax worthy of the Film Noir Hall of Fame. A must see for fans of Mann (especially when you see glimpses of what would later become some of the greatest westerns ever that he would later make), that final scene aside, not so much for fans of noir. Consider it a small part of a bigger potato chip at the bottom of the bag when you've already eaten all the greater ones--you don't necessarily regret taking it in but it won't be the one you remember the bag for...

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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