Bosley Crowther’s N.Y. Times review of Raw Deal, published on 7.9.48: “The end of a fascinating friendship between a fugitive jailbird and the girl who has loyally aided his activities, even down to his desperate prison break, is cheerlessly documented in Raw Deal, a pistol-powered crime melodrama which came to the Victoria yesterday. And the reason for this annulment is that the fugitive meets another girl — a beautiful, law-respecting citizen — while taking it on the lam.
“A transfer of heart throbs of this sort seems distinctly illogical amid all the violent distractions which occur while it’s going on. No one, we’d think, would be able to give much attention to love while keeping one curve on the twisting highway ahead of the chasing police. And no one of average emotions would fret about romance, we’d suppose, while angling to make a double-crosser pay up that ‘fifty grand’ he’d overlooked.
“But this, of course, is a movie — and a pretty low-grade one, at that — in which sensations of fright and excitement are more diligently pursued than common sense. Screeching tires and screaming sirens are more insistent than rational though and clichés of passionate behavior are more viable than truth. And Dennis O’Keefe is the fellow, which to movie fans means, of course, that an equal division of interest between love and luggs is thoroughly plausible.
“To be sure, there is this to be reckoned: Claire Trevor plays the girl whom Mr. O’Keefe gives the raw deal in favor of Marsha Hunt. And anyone watching these two ladies and their behavior in this film might not be inclined to wonder at the change in the gentleman’s choice — even though, as matters turn out, it means that he winds up dead. Except for the usual moral — to wit, that crime does not pay — the only thing proved by this picture is that you shouldn’t switch sweethearts in mid-lam.”