A hard-as-nails, noir-ish thriller from the often underrated Richard Fleischer about a cop (Charles McGraw) taking a deceased gangster’s wife (harder-than-nails Marie Windsor) on the train to Los Angeles to testify against the mob. Naturally, it’s not just a case of transporting the lady, but of keeping her alive along the way. Not only are mobsters out to get her, but they’re also willing to pay the underpaid cop substantially just to look the other way. An unpretentious little thriller devoid of big-named stars, The Narrow Margin (1952) makes splendid use of its confined-space train setting, thanks to Fleischer’s solid direction—and his ability to actually convey the sense of being on a moving train. The clever—and somewhat surprising—screenplay by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard is a big plus. It may not be the ultimate in train-set thrillers (Hitchcock probably wins that—for more than one movie), but it has a freshness due to being less seen.
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