The Gangster

1947, Movie, NR, 84 mins

Review

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Crime boss Sullivan, a thief since childhood, then an apprentice hoodlum, and finally a top man in the underworld--but wholly a product of a mean environment--begins to doubt himself. He ignores mob business, doting on his gun moll Belita, who he comes to believe is two-timing him. Tamiroff warns Sullivan that his men are losing ground to a rival gangster, Leonard, but Sullivan cannot be bothered. He goes to an ice cream parlor, a hangout of his youth, and there finds Lorring, who attacks him for his crooked life. Sullivan begins to inspect his background and purposes, and now feels not only doubt but fear, which creeps into his heart and overtakes his judgment. He cannot act as he ponders his fate while a local gambler, Ireland, begs him for money. One by one, Sullivan's henchmen shrink from his ranks until he is alone, waiting for death as Leonard's thugs close in. He flees to the streets and is shot down. THE GANGSTER is an offbeat entry in the film noir genre, one that places the accent on the psychological. Though at times muddled, the script strives to maintain a deeper approach than such films as PUBLIC ENEMY or AL CAPONE. In its day this film was considered something of an artistic triumph and some sources claim that Fuchs is not the true scriptwriter here, but that Dalton Trumbo really wrote the screenplay. Sullivan, Tamiroff, Ireland, and others are a bit too theatrical under Wiles' moody direction, and a certain staginess is ever-present. Yet the film, which is an often-absorbing curiosity, profiles a man with the kind of intelligence and perception no American gangster ever demonstrated in reality. leave a comment

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