A federal agent (Robert Taylor) is sent to Central America in pursuit of stolen aircraft engines being sold to highest bidder. While there he begins to fall for the wife (Ava Gardner) of one of the men involved in the operation. Robert Z. Leonard's The Bribe is a noir style crime thriller which is drenched in the the mysticism of Central American culture. The Bribe is uniquely structured, really throwing the viewer right into the middle of the story. Instead of opting to slowly set up the story, The Bribe begins about two-thirds into the adventures of the federal agent getting us up to speed via his narration. This is very much the story of Robert Taylor's character and through this narration we gain lots of detailed insight into the various characters and situations he faces. We are given a great sense of this "trust no one"mentality he must have as he struggles to find the men responsible for the stolen aircraft parts, while also dealing with the internal desire he has to be with Elizabeth, the wife of the head gangster involved. The plot and style of The Bribe are adequate but nothing incredibly groundbreaking relying on some clever twists and turns in the narrative to keep things interesting. The Bribe's biggest attribute by far is having the high caliber actors of Charles Laughton and Vincent Price as your principal baddies, spewing venous dialogue a mile a minute which helps give the film a lot more energy and excitement. The Bribe closes out strong with a beautifully executed shootout in a dark apartment which uses fireworks in the background to beautifully elevate the chaos and tension of the scene. While Robert Z. Leonard's The Bribe may not be anything groundbreaking, it's a well executed crime flick that is elevated by the likes of Charles Laughton and Vincent Price.
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