The Bribe is directed by Robert Z. Leonard and written by Marguerite Roberts. It stars Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price and John Hodiak. Music is by Miklós Rózsa and cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.
Federal agent Rigby (Taylor) is assigned to the island of Carlotta to investigate the illegal trafficking of war-surplus aircraft parts. He quickly finds out that it's not just the weather that is hot...
Frustrating! Out of MGM, The Bribe bites off more than it can chew. On one hand you have a cast guaranteed to either make you swoon or hiss at, on the other it's a cheaply staged production coasting on the star power and high end technical credits.
Everything about the piece screams out that the execs put all the money into the casting, the hiring of a master musical composer and a cinematographer of some standing. On the page, the realisation of such, it's laborious, needlessly convoluted and really rather dull. It's no surprise to find during research that Taylor himself felt it was one of the worst films he ever made! It all looks so fake, from the crude back screen projections and spliced scenes from elsewhere, to the backlot set that looks about as close to a warm tropical island as an igloo does.
On the plus side is Ruttenberg's photography, superb in contrasts and shadowy whiles (the slats are amazing), while Taylor's dry narration really engages, it's these aspects that explains why the film has found its way into some film noir bibles. Gardner and Taylor sizzle with sexuality, their on screen affair being played out for real off screen - much to the consternation of one Barbara Stanwyck. Laughton sweats and limps a lot whilst making a weasel look honourable, Price does the twirling moustache villainy he was so great at, while Hodiak shows good pathos as a drunk clearly in over his head with all aspects of his life.
Fans of the stars get good value, but this has to go down as a wasted opportunity. It failed at the box office and ultimately - in spite of some splendid film noir tints - it's not hard to see why. 5.5/10
on 14 September 2011
I knew this film existed, but I had never seen it.
Although I have been a Ava Gardner fan for over 35 years!
Wonderfull to see her again in a radiant part
A minor point is that there are no subtitles, but luckily my English is sufficient
I'm very glad I spotted it and now just a few films to go, to complete the filmography of my film diva