The Narrow Margin

Synopsis: When a mobster's wife decides to testify against his evil deeds, she goes under cover to avoid being killed. Now that he's coming to trial, she has to be escorted across country by train in order to testify. Cop Walter Brown and his partner are assigned the task, but the mob are on their trail.
Director(s): Richard Fleischer
Production: Warner Home Video
Rotten Tomatoes:
71 min

Your attention, please.

Now arriving from Los Angeles

at Track 3...

Central Pacific train number 10...

the Forty-Niner now arriving

from Los Angeles.

You handle the bags.

I'll meet you at the taxi stand.

Yeah, sure.

- Redcap.

- Yes, sir?

- Those two there.

- Yes, sir.

You going on East or staying over?

Neither. Going back tonight.

Golden West Limited, Los Angeles.

- Why, that train leaves in an hour, sir.

- Yeah, I know.

- Just be sure those two are aboard.

- Yes, sir.

Car 10, rooms A and B.

- Okay.

- Thank you.

- 9417 Water Street, South.

- Okay.

Yeah, and if you know any shortcuts,

driver, take them.

Relax, Walter. We'll make it okay.

If we don't, I know a couple of suitcases

that are going to be awfully lonesome.

Your cigar is dead.

Thanks. I'm thinking of changing brands.

Something with a self-starter on it.

Bet you're wondering the same

thing I am:
What she looks like.

I don't have to wonder. I know.

Why, that's wonderful, Walter.

Nobody's seen her, but you know

what she looks like. What a gift.

Come off of it. You're just making talk.

Well, we'll get there just as fast talking.

- What about this dame, Mr. Crystal Ball?

- A dish.

What kind of a dish?

Sixty-cent special: Cheap, flashy,

strictly poison under the gravy.

Amazing. Now, how do you know all this?

Well, she was married to a hoodlum,

wasn't she?

What kind of a dame would marry a hood?

All kinds.

Oh, Gus, at heart you're still a boy scout.

Maybe it's just old age coming on.

Anyway, I got $5 that says

you're wrong this trip.

- What can I lose?

- $5. You're on.

Slightly out of the high-rent district,

isn't it?

- Well, nobody tailed us.

- You hope.

Wait here, driver.

Douse your lights, will you?

Number 10.

You want to double my bet?

- Who is it?

- Forbes.

It's okay.

- Det. Sgt. Brown.

- All right.

What's the music for? A welcome?

You don't know how welcome.

Turn that thing off.

Your escort's here.

Forbes and Brown. Los Angeles.

How nice. How's Los Angeles?

Sunburn wear off on the way out?

If you don't mind, Mrs. Neall,

we're a little short of time.

- Our train leaves in half an hour.

- Just a minute.

I can pack my own things.

First, I want to know who I'm going with.

- You're going with us.

- Don't be too sure of that.

How do I know you're cops?

- Was I right?

- Don't rub it in.

- I owe you $5.

- Better show her your orders.

- She's afraid of a trap.

- You bet I am.

Getting killed sort of runs in our family.

They got Frankie, and his widow's next.

I'm taking a big chance.

Okay. Here's the DA's signature.

We're taking a big chance, too, you know.

If we don't get you to the Coast,

it'll cost us our jobs.

- You're breaking my heart.

- You satisfied?

All right, I'll get my things together.

- So long, mother.

- Have a nice trip.

- She's all yours, boys.

- Okay, Wilson.

"Rumor of grand jury to hold

special session.

"Hint slain ganglord's widow...

"may testify in graft probe. "

The word gets around, doesn't it?

That's what's worrying me.

Frankie carry any life insurance,

Mrs. Neall?

Quit hinting.

Well, I thought he might've

left you an annuity.

Not cash exactly,

but something just as good.

Like that payoff list they talk about.

I heard you the first time.

You'd like a look at that list, wouldn't you?

Well, I like to feel I'm in the know.

Buy a paper, the first thing I turn to

is the gossip column.

- I'll read them off to you sometime.

- When?

When the grand jury asks me and not

before. So quit making a pest of yourself.

- And get your hands off my baggage.

- All right, let's get out of here.

I'm ready.

After you.

Your friend's dead, mister.

You heard him. He's dead.

Get me out of here.

- Well, what're you waiting for?

- Shut up.

You saw this.

- Did you get a look at the man in the hall?

- Not his face.

I was trying to remember.

He was about your height.

Had on an overcoat.

Go ahead. I'm a police officer.

Sgt. Brown, Los Angeles.

What else about him?

Well, there was something

about that overcoat.

That guy may be back.

Are we going to hang around here

all night?

- Cabbie, get her bags.

- Yes, sir.

You better call the police.

Hey, I know what it was.

That coat had fur on it.

Dark fur around the collar.

Well, get them on the phone.

Tell them what you know.

- Say I'll wire a report.

- Yes, sir.

Back where you came from, only faster.

Charley horse?

The one time I let him go first, it happens.


Yeah, he was getting old and slow.

You could put a live bomb in his hand

and count 10 before he'd drop it.

I'll never forgive myself.

Well, this is fun.

Some protection they sent me.

An old who walks right into it,

and a weeper.

How you expect me to feel? He was

my partner for six years. He broke me in.

Why, he and his wife and I were...

What am I going to tell her?

- What're you doing? Keeping score?

- Yeah, one down, two to go.

Well, don't kid about it. Whoever that was,

they were trying to get me.

How long will my luck last?

As long as there are cops like Forbes

around to get killed for you.

- Like you, I suppose.

- Yeah, like me.

Well, my taste doesn't

usually run to cops...

but you might not be

such dull company at that.

Mrs. Neall, we better get

one thing straight.

You're just a job to me. A COD package

to be delivered to the LA grand jury...

and there's no joy in it.

I don't like you any more than Forbes did,

but he got himself murdered for you...

and maybe I will, too.

That's what they pay me for.

- Do we understand each other?

- Relax, Percy, your shield's untarnished.

I've changed my mind.

I wouldn't want any of that nobility

to rub off on me.

It won't, if you keep your distance.

All the way to the Coast?

- Poor Forbes.

- What about poor Forbes?

He owed me $5.

Driver, about two blocks from the station,

let me out.

- What's the idea?

- You're on your own till the train starts.

Tickets, money. You pay the driver.

- I don't get it.

- Just do as you're told.

They haven't seen you yet,

they don't know what you look like.

But they've seen me. If they shoot

in my direction, I don't want you hit.

- You're sure it isn't the other way around?

- When you get to the station, walk...

don't run to the platform.

Carry your own bag.

Go straight to car 10, room B,

and lock yourself in.

If the lights are on, turn them off

and leave them off.

- Don't forget to pull the shade.

- Suppose I stand you up?

I'm not too keen

on this grand jury business.

You've forgotten about the guy with the

fur collar. You can't stand him up.

In the morning they'd be fishing you

out of the Chicago River.

I'll see you aboard.

Keep the change.

- May I carry your bags?

- No, thanks, I'll carry them.

... now ready for occupancy on Track C.

Leaves in five minutes. Okay, I'll tell him.

Densel had bad luck. He got winged, too.

Up to us, huh?

Tail Brown. She's with him.

What's she look like?

He never saw her face.

Just keep your eye on the cop.

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Earl Felton

Earl Felton (1909–1972) was an American screenwriter.He was a regular collaborator with Richard Fleischer, who later wrote that "Earl was crippled from childhood with polio. He had no use of his legs, but he navigated beautifully with a crutch and cane... Earl normally hated anybody [helping]... him and would sometimes lay about him with his cane."Fleischer added that "in spite of his lifeless legs and total reliance of a crutch and cane to get around, Felton was much given to self-indulgences and debaucheries." more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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