A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
In a way, it should all be so simple. We could type the screenplay ourselves, wearing boxing gloves.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an ex-FBI agent, thrown out of the bureau in disgrace, reduced to working as a sheriff in a small town. An old FBI friend approaches him with an offer: infiltrate the Chicago mob, destroy its operations and regain your reputation. This plot is so simple (and has been told so many times before), that perhaps the most amazing achievement of "Raw Deal" is its ability to screw it up. This movie didn't just happen to be a mess; the filmmakers had to work to make it so confusing.
From the evidence on the screen, I'd say the final shape of the movie is a long distance from their original ideas. The opening scenes, for example, sketch out a relationship between Schwarzenegger and his alcoholic wife (Blanche Baker), and there's some unintentional humor in the sight of Schwarzenegger playing the long-suffering husband. But then the wife totally and completely drops out of sight (except for an offhand remark, near the end of the movie, that Schwarzenegger is "back with her").
Was this originally supposed to be a more domestic thriller, and did they drop whole reams of the script when Schwarzenegger signed on? Maybe.