Joe Morse: “I found my brother's body at the bottom there, where they had thrown it away on the rocks... by the river... like an old dirty rag nobody wants. He was dead - and I felt I had killed him.”
Joe Morse (John Garfield) descent to reality – to find his brother dead on the rocks under Manhattan Bridge – makes him aware of a bleak world.
Force of Evil – narrated in a documentary style - is a noir film with a social background and a dark view of capitalism and democracy.
Joe Morse is a successful lawyer for a big lottery racket – Tucker enterprises – which manipulates the lottery results for their own benefit.
Joe Morse: “…the enterprise was slightly illegal. You see I was the lawyer for the numbers racket”.
His brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) owns a small lottery company which will be destroyed (along with many other small companies) by the racketeers. It’s part of a plan to make Tucker’s gambling businesses legal. Symbolically enough the date chosen to perform this deed is 4th of July – Independence day – using lottery number 776 (from 1776, when the US declared their own independence). Joe tries to convince his brother to close the business at least for one day – and thus avoid bankruptcy but Leo doesn’t want to let his costumers down.
The two brothers are at different ends of a corrupt system, though they have different views:
Leo Morse: The money I made in this rotten business is no good for me, Joe. I don't want it back. And Tucker's money is no good either.
Joe Morse: The money has no moral opinions.
Leo Morse: I find I have, Joe. I find I have