Felix E. Feist

Sog.: Hugh King. Scen.: Dick Irving Hyland, Hugh King. F.: Harry Wild. M.: Samuel E. Beetley. Scgf.: Albert D’Agostino, Charles F. Pyke. Mus.: Paul Sawtell. Int.: Charles McGraw (Arnold Kluger), Virginia Grey (Carol), Michael O’Shea (Ray Williams), Frank Conroy (Barker ‘Mac’ MacDonald), Don McGuire (Joe Turner), Robert Shayne (Murphy), Anthony Caruso (Nick Damon), Frank Richards (Lefty). Prod.: Hugh King per RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.. 35mm. D.: 66’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The Threat, a brisk and brutal B-movie from RKO, concerns a notorious crook (played with savage cool by Charles McGraw) who breaks out of prison looking for revenge. That is the entire plot. What it lacks in story, it makes up for with a hostage drama that is surprisingly violent for its era. The creative force is Feist, who had previously made The Devil Thumbs a Ride for the studio – and The Threat is a nasty encore. Both revolve around an unrepentant psychopath holding a houseful of people hostage. Neither movie cares about plot – they’re all about the guilty pleasure of watching a powerful actor given free rein to wreak havoc, escalating to a satisfying and cleverly directed finale in a forlorn shack in the California desert. Feist flourished within the constraints of a picture like The Threat. His brilliance shone in violent contemporary melodrama, while his historical pieces such as Battles of Chief Pontiac and Pirates of Tripoli, weren’t nearly as exciting.
The Threat was the breakout picture for supporting actor Charles McGraw – RKO gave him only third billing, but the press heralded him as a new and entertaining menace in the mold of Richard Widmark, Dan Duryea, and Lawrence Tierney. McGraw had already made 25 pictures prior to this, working with geniuses like Robert Siodmak (The Killers) and Anthony Mann (T-Men, Border Incident). But in The Threat, he wasn’t a scary hoodlum lurking at the edge of the frame – he’s front and center, a burly juggernaut. Feist relishes turning this ferocious bulldog loose on a bruised and battered supporting cast that includes Michael O’Shea, Frank Conroy, Don McGuire and Virginia Grey – who takes her fair share of lumps as McGraw’s possibly duplicitous girlfriend. Like The Devil Thumbs a Ride, this is a live-action cartoon, with humans standing in for savvy roadrunners and wily coyotes. Buckle up for this 66-minute flight from justice; it may be short, but there is much turbulence.

Eddie Muller 

Copy From

By courtesy of Park Circus e RKO