The Narrow Margin (1952)

Genre:  Drama

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Synopsis

The Narrow Margin is generally considered a model B picture; some film buffs go farther than that, labelling this 1952 RKO suspenser as the best low-budget studio production ever made.

Nail-hard detective Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) is assigned to protect gangster's widow Mrs. Neall (Marie Windsor) as she rides the train from Chicago to LA, en route to testifying at a grand jury.

There's no love lost between the ill-tempered Neall and Brown, especially since Brown's partner (Don Beddoe) was killed by mobsters while shielding Neall from harm. On the train, Brown makes the acquaintance of a likeable woman (Jacqueline White) and her playful young son.

He also comes in contact with a rather secretive fat man (Paul Maxey), who may well be a mob assassin. Not long before the train pulls into California, Brown is approached by small-time crook (Peter Brocco), who offers the detective a great deal of money if he'll permit Neall to be silenced.

Brown appears to be tempted, but this is only a smokescreen to throw the crooks off the trail. The Narrow Margin was remade (and unnecessarily padded and attenuated) in 1990.

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