Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Bribe (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Bribe (1949)

In Robert Z. Leonard's crime noir ("A Story of Love and Temptation") - a dark melodrama (with scenes often used in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)), about a compromised Secret Service agent in Central America to trace stolen plane engines - sidetracked by a suspect's femme fatale wife:

  • the frequent voice-over narration during flashbacks of chain-smoking Federal secret service agent Rigby (Robert Taylor), a cold-hearted ex-war veteran, some of which appeared on his rain-streaked, hotel room window in Los Trancos on the island of Carlotta in Central America: "Well, here's the storm, right on schedule. Could be a break at that. Gives you time. Yeah, time to think. And how do you like your thoughts? How do you like finding out that maybe you've got a price tag, too, after all these years? How much do you cost, Rigby? How much for you? Or would you rather use another word for what you're selling out, one with a fancy necktie on it, say, honor? And what does that mean - honor? Same thing to everybody or different things to different people? Honor, just a word. Say it over often enough and it's not even a word anymore, just a sound - a sound without any meaning at all"
  • Rigby's objective while posing as a sports fisherman: the pursuit of smugglers involved in missing (or stolen) WWII aircraft engine parts, although Rigby became entranced and sidetracked by an irresistible femme fatale - sultry torch singer Elizabeth Hintten (Ava Gardner) after seeing her perform "Situation Wanted" in Pedro's nightclub - she was the wife of his initial prime suspect: ex-Air Force pilot Tugwell Hintten (John Hodiak) - first described by Rigby in voice-over: "Entertainer at Pedro's. Unknown quantity. Quantity unknown maybe, but one look and you thought you knew the quality"
  • Rigby later spoke to Elizabeth in her dressing room where her drunken and dissolute husband barged in and told him that she was off-limits before he passed out; Rigby helped Elizabeth get her husband home; Rigby delivered a further voice-over assessment of Elizabeth: "There was something about her, a softness. You had to keep telling yourself it was a good routine, a very good routine...."
The Main Shady Characters
Elizabeth Hintten
(Ava Gardner)
Elizabeth with Drunken
Husband Tugwell Hintten
(John Hodiak)
Playboyish Racketeer-Smuggler Carwood (Vincent Price)
Gang Fixer J.J. Bealer
(Charles Laughton)
  • the slovenly figure of J.J. Bealer (Charles Laughton) (nicknamed "the Pie Shaped Man") - a scruffy, unshaven, weasely, conniving fixer, ex-patriate, and gang emissary with sore feet, who offered Rigby a large cash "bribe" of $12,000 to keep out of the case: "Well, Mr. Rigby, it ain't going to be any walkover for her taking care of a sick man. She's gonna need help, cash help. A man with cash sure could set himself up in business with her and the man who gets there firstest - Eleven thousand, Mr. Rigby, top dollar for the job. Say? Who are you protecting? A bunch of dumb taxpayers who will get it in the neck anyhow? Get smart, Mr. Rigby. Everybody grafts nowadays. That's the way people operate. Twelve thousand, Mr. Rigby. I don't get a lot out of this. Every cent, every red cent, I need it. Say, you ain't giving me that business anymore, are ya? You aren't even talking to me. Why? Why ain't you brushing me off with your fast chatter? Well, why ain't you getting up and walking away? Something holding you? What, Mr. Rigby?"
  • the scene of the planned death of Rigby during a marlin fishing trip on a chartered boat with suave playboyish tourist and mine owner Carwood (Vincent Price) - in reality, a leering, diabolic racketeer-smuggling mastermind; young native guide and boatman Emilio Gomez (Tito Renaldo) was the one who lost his life in shark-infested waters when he dove in to rescue Rigby - who had been deliberately tossed into the water by Carwood at the wheel
  • the romantic kissing scene on a beach after a fun moonlight swim between Rigby and Elizabeth when they compared their natures: Elizabeth: "I'm spoiled. You're careful. We sound like a couple of Dick Tracy characters"; she asked about the previous women in his life when compared to herself: "Your girls, all plump and rosy?" - she complimented him as "a nice guy" - and was sorry he had been unlucky in love; and then she directly asked: "Rigby, why haven't you tried to kiss me?"; he accepted her invitation, but then she wanted to cool him off: "No, please, just once...maybe even that was too much. I think I'd better go home"; he grabbed her for another embrace: "Why not? Nobody's ever thought of a better way of saying good-night"; she rationalized: "It would just be an anti-climax. You see, you've already been kissed goodbye"; he replied that he wished he had known their first kiss was a 'goodbye' kiss ("When I kiss somebody goodbye, I like to know in advance. I do better"); before leaving, she told him: "It wouldn't have made any difference if you'd known. It wouldn't make me see you again"; in voice-over, Rigby noted: "Which way was it with her? Was it the way you wanted it to be, with her on the level, not knowing about him? Or was she just trying to play it smart? If that was it, she was making it. She got to ya. She got to ya good. You knew you should keep away from her"
  • the spectacular, visually-stunning finale - the film's highlight included a nighttime chase scene and shootout between Carwood and Rigby during a Fiesta de Carlotta fireworks celebration, in which Rigby gunned down Carwood in the abdomen in self-defense (amidst a shower of sparks)
  • in the film's conclusion, Rigby arrived at the now-widowed Elizabeth's home to romance her (and receive a kiss from her) - Carwood had killed her husband for talking too much; the wounded Bealer on the stairway saw the two kissing and asked Rigby: "What happened to Carwood? When you get around to it, Mr. Rigby, you might call a cop" - the film's final line

Federal Secret Service Agent Rigby (Robert Taylor)

Rigby Offered A 'Bribe' by Gang Fixer Bealer

Carwood After Shark Attack on Boatman Emilio

Rigby with Elizabeth After Moonlight Swim

Climactic Shoot-out Between Rigby and Carwood During Fireworks and Fiesta

Rigby with Elizabeth in the Finale


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