Raw Deal (1948) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.

  • Joe Sullivan is itching to get out of prison. He's taken the rap for Rick, who owes him $50,000. Rick sets up an escape for Joe, knowing that Joe will be caught escaping and be shot or locked away forever. But with the help of his love-struck girl Pat and his sympathetic legal caseworker Ann, Joe gets further than he's supposed to, and we are posed with two very important questions: Is Joe really the cold and heartless criminal he appears to be, or is there a heart of gold under that gritty exterior? And does Joe belong with the tough, street-wise Pat, or with the prim, moralizing Ann?

  • Joe Sullivan is in the state prison taking the blame for the gangster Rick Coyle that owes him US $50,000. Joe is visited by the young Ann Martin that works at the law firm that is defending him and she tells that after three years, Joe will certainly be on probation. However his lover Pat also visits him and tells that Rick has plotted an escape for him during the night. What they do not know is that the sadistic Rick wants to get rid off Joe and expects that Joe will be shot or caught during the prison break. Joe succeeds in the escape and Pat drives the getaway car. However the car is shot in the tank by the police officers and they run out fuel. Joe brings Pat to Ann's house expecting to have a hideout for a couple of days, but Ann tries to call the police believing that she would help Joe. They escape in Ann's car with her as a hostage and head to Crescent City, where Joe expects to meet Rick to receive his money and travel to South America with Pat. But Rick sends a hit man to kill Joe while Pat feels that she is losing Joe to Ann that has fallen in love with him. Will Pat and Joe have the chance to travel together to South America?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Joe Sullivan, who is serving time in prison for his role in a robbery, is visited by two women. First, by his lawyer's assistant, Ann Martin, who appears to have more than a legal interest in him, and then by his girlfriend, Pat. During the visit, Pat informs him that he is to be broken out of prison that evening. Unknown to Pat or Joe, the escape has been engineered by sadistic Rick Coyle, the thief for whom Joe took the rap, in the hope that Joe will be killed, thus allowing Coyle to retain Joe's share of the robbery.

    However, Joe makes a successful escape and is driven away by Pat with the plan to sail to Panama from San Francisco in a few days. Bullet holes in the gas tank force them to abandon the car. They go to Ann's apartment to hide out. Aware that the police are setting up roadblocks, however, they decide to flee, taking Ann and her car. Pat is jealous of Ann but Joe wants her along to get them through the roadblocks more easily.

    After they discover that Ann's car has been identified, they stop at a gas station and steal another customer's car. Meanwhile, Coyle learns that Joe has made a clean getaway and is expecting to meet him the next evening to collect his share of the money, so he orders his henchman Fantail to kill Joe.

    Joe, Pat and Ann stop at a tavern run by a friend in order to switch cars again. The police surround the remote tavern when a fleeing wife murderer tries to hide out there. Eventually the killer runs out shooting and is killed by the police, who then leave, unaware that Joe is there also.

    Later, the three leave to collect Joe's $50,000 at a rendezvous at Grimshaw's Taxidermy, Fishing and Sport Supplies, after which Joe intends to set Ann free. However, Fantail is waiting for Joe at the store and a fight ensues, during which Ann shoots Fantail with his own gun to prevent him from killing Joe. Horrified by what she has done, Ann runs off, but Joe catches up with her and tells her that she has only wounded Fantail. After Ann and Joe realize that they are in love, Joe sends her away but she is spotted by Fantail, who follows her back to San Francisco and delivers her to Coyle.

    Before Joe and Pat leave, he decides to eliminate Coyle. Pat begs him not to and suspecting that he has fallen for Ann, admits that she almost phoned the police to turn him in, but changed her mind. As they are about to leave to board the freighter, Coyle discovers in which hotel they are staying and has one of his men phone to inform them that he is holding Ann prisoner. However, Pat takes the call and chooses not to relay the information to Joe.

    While the police keep tracking him, Joe arranges for Pat and him to be married at sea. Pat breaks down, however, and tells Joe that Coyle has Ann. When Joe rushes to rescue her, Coyle's men are waiting for him in the alley outside Coyle's house, but Joe manages to enter and confronts Coyle. Although Coyle assures him that he will give him the money, he double-crosses Joe again and shoots him. Joe returns fire, injuring Coyle who falls and knocks over some candles setting the room ablaze. They struggle amidst the fire until Joe pushes Coyle through a window to his death. Joe then rescues Ann, but as the police arrive with Pat in custody, he dies in Ann's arms.

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