The Man from Cairo

January 8, 2012 at 3:37 am (6 Heads, Man from Cairo) (, , , , , )

The Man from Cairo – 1953 – England

The Man from Cairo is British noir starring George Raft whose tough sneering image competed with Humphrey Bogart’s. Raft is an intriguing fellow. Rumors claim he was illiterate and a former mobster. After his retirement, he was sentenced for tax evasion but avoided imprisonment by weeping pleas. Anecdotes aside, Raft’s influence on Hollywood’s gangster archetype is incalculable.

An American tourist in Cairo is mistakenly associated with a gold heist and becomes ensnared in a web of conspiracy. Amid flying bullets and knives, our man tangles with French intelligence, mellifluous thugs, a four-fingered stranger, and a sultry dancing girl. A true tough guy, he takes the crosses and double-crosses in stride, making condescending quips but never revealing his ambiguous motivations.

The Man from Cairo is thematically noir. The protagonist is a victim of circumstance, threatened by shadowy forces beyond his control. The conniving villains speak in sweetly veiled threats. And of course there is a greedy manipulative dame—“I’ve been fighting to live all through the war since I was 14. That’s when I learned to lie and steal. That’s when I learned life without money is lonely and dirty and mean.” Only the neatly happy ending breaks the mold. The protagonist and dame live happily ever after. Whatever. She’s a hustler for life.

The Man from Cairo isn’t stellar but it’s enjoyably twisty and action-packed. The interesting arabesque locations add romantic and perilous atmosphere. George Raft looks too old for the sexy chemistry required in the sizzling scenes, but this is a niggling complaint. Undemanding fans will dig this flick.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Director Ray Enright was born in Anderson, Indiana. Aside from Haiti, this was my childhood home.

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