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Noir Alley

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2 hours ago, TheCid said:

The Gangster, Sep. 29/30 feature.  Read the Wiki synopsis and it sounds like it may be confusing.  ImDB gave it 3 stars.  Reviews say it leans towards artsy.  Anybody seen it?

As I recall, IMDb ratings run from 1 to 10 stars and are voted on by multiple members. That would mean that this film has an extremely low rating, since even some pretty bad films I’ve seen Have managed to get around five stars... In fact those films with two or less stars usually place on the IMDB bottom 250.

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38 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

As I recall, IMDb ratings run from 1 to 10 stars and are voted on by multiple members. That would mean that this film has an extremely low rating, since even some pretty bad films I’ve seen Have managed to get around five stars... In fact those films with two or less stars usually place on the IMDB bottom 250.

The IMDb average score for The Gangster is 6.5/10, with 458 votes. I'm not sure where the 3 star score TheCid mentioned was.

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38 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

As I recall, IMDb ratings run from 1 to 10 stars and are voted on by multiple members. That would mean that this film has an extremely low rating, since even some pretty bad films I’ve seen Have managed to get around five stars... In fact those films with two or less stars usually place on the IMDB bottom 250.

I have to think the film got 3 out of 5 and not 3 out of 10.     I would give it a 6 out of 10.   

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2 hours ago, TheCid said:

The Gangster, Sep. 29/30 feature.  Read the Wiki synopsis and it sounds like it may be confusing.  ImDB gave it 3 stars.  Reviews say it leans towards artsy.  Anybody seen it?

".... The Gangster, a raw, bitter portrait of a racketeer (Barry Sullivan) becoming increasingly paranoid and full of self-doubt as he grapples with a rival gangster  (Sheldon Leonard), a girlfriend he thinks is two-timing him (Belita), and a gambler who pleads for money (John Ireland).

This film is offbeat, with a psychological focus that some consider pretentious and theatrical, though it's certainly compelling. It's also certainly a film noir, with its seamy portrayal of doomed underworld characters and a fine supporting cast of noir stalwarts including Akim Tamiroff, Henry Morgan, Charles McGraw, and Elisha Cook, Jr. (Keep a lookout for Shelley Winters as a cashier.) ....

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/26605/Gangster-The/articles.html

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It looks like the 3-star rating for The Gangster comes from the Leonard Maltin review that is attached to the TCM schedule listing.

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3 hours ago, TheCid said:

The Gangster, Sep. 29/30 feature.  Read the Wiki synopsis and it sounds like it may be confusing.  ImDB gave it 3 stars.  Reviews say it leans towards artsy.  Anybody seen it?

Often I have already seen the noirs Eddie airs on Noir Alley, ( which is just fine, I always like to see them again), but once in a while he shows one I'm not familiar with, and this is the case with The Gangster. It's kind of a treat for me to see a brand new noir ( brand new to me), so I'm looking forward to it.

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38 minutes ago, mr6666 said:



This film is offbeat, with a psychological focus that some consider pretentious and theatrical, though it's certainly compelling. It's also certainly a film noir, with its seamy portrayal of doomed underworld characters and a fine supporting cast of noir stalwarts including Akim Tamiroff, Henry Morgan, Charles McGraw, and Elisha Cook, Jr. (Keep a lookout for Shelley Winters as a cashier.) ....

 

Sounds fun to me !

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Ok, that clears it up, thanks everyone. For a film to get less than four out of ten on IMDb, it needs to be a DOG of Uwe Boll or BIRDEMIC proportions.

This is, after all, the same community that (for a while at least) rated “The Shawshank Redemption” the number one film of all time...

a verrry generous lot those IMDb users are...

 

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My apologies for the confusion.  I googled The Gangster and on the link for ImDB that pops up, it shows 3.5 stars out of 5.  Then it shows the 6.6 out 10 score, but I missed that.

I did watch it this morning.  Interesting in an off-beat way.  Not sure I ever saw Barry Sullivan act in the manner which he did.  I think that may be due to the director wanting a more "psychological" performance.  I would have to somewhat agree with Muller's quote from Sullivan re: Belita's acting.

As usual, Muller's backstories were almost as interesting as the movie.

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I watched The Gangster last night, live even, which is pretty rare for me. 

I am not sure what to think of this film.  It was definitely interesting.  I agree with Eddie Muller re: Belita.  I had never even heard of Belita, so when I saw that this film starred Barry Sullivan, Belita and Joan Lorring, I thought, "who is this Belita? and why is she only a one-name person?"  When she came on screen, she definitely wasn't what I was expecting.  Her acting was serviceable.  She wasn't bad, but wasn't amazing.  Joan Lorring was more interesting.  I liked Barry Sullivan's character, he was definitely different in this film than he was in previous films I'd seen.  I must have been confusing Sullivan with Barry Fitzgerald, because when Sullivan came on-screen, I was relieved.  

Overall, I think I liked the film.  I liked Sullivan's character, even with the wild name of Shubunka.  I wonder what the significance of the name was.  Muller stated that Sullivan's character had an indistinguishable ethnicity.  The name "Shubunka" would definitely lend to that characterization.  Sullivan himself looks like he could pass as a variety of ethnicities as well.  I am trying to determine why having a character of an indistinguishable ethnicity would be important--perhaps so audiences couldn't assign pre-determined character traits (based on stereotypes) to the main character? 

I liked that Sullivan seemed almost tortured throughout the film.  He wanted to get out of his small-time racket and thought that hooking up with Broadway star Belita would be his ticket.  He offered protection to Akim Tamiroff but wouldn't protect John Ireland, which infuriated cashier Lorring.  I think it was because Ireland's character had it all, a good job (CPA), a wife and presumably was able to make a decent living.  He then became addicted to gambling, which led him to stealing from his wife's family's business.  Presumably, Ireland probably isn't working as a CPA.  If this is indeed why Sullivan didn't want to help Ireland, I can sympathize with him.  It's sometimes hard for me to have sympathy or empathy for someone who is in trouble due to something they did. 

I was somewhat disturbed by Sullivan and Belita's relationship.  It very much seemed like they were in an emotionally abusive relationship--one that Belita couldn't seem to escape from.  However, by the end of the film, I wasn't sure if I had that same opinion.

The ending of the film Lorring made it clear that she wanted Sullivan to get his just desserts.  I don't think that was fair.  He was punished for a crime he didn't commit.  Though, I suppose that could be the price you pay for being involved in the line of work you're in.  

Muller mentioned all the recognizable bit players throughout the film.  While Harry Morgan had a supporting role, not a bit role, but I recognized his voice from M*A*S*H.  I also recognized Sid Melton who plays Alf Monroe in Green Acres and Sophia Petrillo's deceased husband Sid (in flashback scenes) in The Golden Girls.  I also recognized Shelley Winters in her small part as the cashier, Hazel, who replaces Lorring after she quits.  I also recognized Sheldon Leonard (who plays Cornell, the gangster trying to take over Sullivan's racket), from his turn on I Love Lucy as the salesman who gets Lucy to buy the "Handy Dandy Vacuum Cleaner."  He was also in the Errol Flynn film, Uncertain Glory.  If there were more people I was supposed to recognize, then I guess I failed. 

Overall, I think I liked The Gangster, but I don't know if it's a film I'd need to watch over and over.

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I really liked this film, and though I already own a Warner Archive copy, it is just better with Eddie's comments. Warner Brothers probably owns the rights to the wrap arounds for Noir Alley, so they should put them on any further releases of films Eddie comments on. It would really improve their releases of noirs.

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If you want to see Harry Morgan be a sadistic killer, you should check out the film OUTSIDE THE WALL (1950) from Universal Films.  It stars Richard Basehart as the ex con who meets up with a bunch of killers including Morgan. It is a film that hardly anybody speaks about.  Maybe, due to its lack of exposure. However, it is worth the watch.

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I couldn’t make it through THE GANGSTER, although HARRY MORGAN was terrific, Joan Lorring was good, I ADORE Akim Tamiroff, and Barry Sullivan was less boring than he usually is.

It reminded me of a Damon Runyon play, only plotless, deliberately unfunny and with contractions in the dialogue.

 

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9 hours ago, TheCid said:

My apologies for the confusion.  I googled The Gangster and on the link for ImDB that pops up, it shows 3.5 stars out of 5.  Then it shows the 6.6 out 10 score, but I missed that.

I did watch it this morning.  Interesting in an off-beat way.  Not sure I ever saw Barry Sullivan act in the manner which he did.  I think that may be due to the director wanting a more "psychological" performance.  I would have to somewhat agree with Muller's quote from Sullivan re: Belita's acting.

As usual, Muller's backstories were almost as interesting as the movie.

Cid(or anyone here I suppose), as I started watching this film about 10 minutes in and thus missed Eddie's intro where he said this, what exactly did Eddie say Sullivan said about Belita's acting?

Because I found her acting in this film was fairly lackluster and that she had almost zero screen-presence, I have a feeling what Sullivan supposedly said wasn't exactly complimentary about her, right?

(...btw...I also found this film's pacing pretty darn slow, and that it felt quite a bit stagebound in many parts)

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The first hour or so was on the dull side with nothing outstanding about it. Your

typical gangster flick. The last twenty minutes or so picked up a bit as ol' Barry

tried to hightail it out of town. A bit on the pretentious side too, but I suppose

pretentious beats dull. It was enjoyable to see all the well-known noir actors

who popped up in small roles. I got an especial kick out of Elisha Cook, Jr with

a near rerun of his Wilmer role in The Maltese Falcon. The smaller the hood the

bigger the patter. And of course the more Cook mouthed off, the more you knew

that Barry was going to flatten him out. One part of the film had a William Saroyan 

kind of vibe with the various characters coming together in an ice cream parlour

instead of a bar. And Harry Morgan was a gas as the "player." Right. It has its

moments, but overall it's not anything special.

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55 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Cid(or anyone here I suppose), as I started watching this film about 10 minutes in and thus missed Eddie's intro where he said this, what exactly did Eddie say Sullivan said about Belita's acting?

Because I found her acting in this film was fairly lackluster and that she had almost zero screen-presence, I have a feeling what Sullivan supposedly said wasn't exactly complimentary about her, right?

(...btw...I also found this film's pacing pretty darn slow, and that it felt quite a bit stagebound in many parts)

To paraphrase, Sullivan reportedly said that he was fond of Belita because she didn't know what the "fudge" (to use Muller's word) was going on.  He thought she was a great skater, but that she didn't know anything about acting.

I agree with you regarding Belita.  She was very much the ice queen (pun intended!) but without any sort of charisma or screen presence.  Like I said, she was serviceable in the part.  She said her lines and moved to her marks, but that's about it. 

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Belita was pretty and did a decent job lip-syncing that song (and whoever really sang it sounded like it could be Belita.)  Yes, serviceable, and I liked her hair.  She looked good in her swimsuit cover-up.  I thought she looked a little bit like Gloria Grahame but without the talent or charisma.  I had never heard of her before.  Joan Lorring and Virginia Christine were much better and more interesting.

Sometimes John Ireland is pretty intense and he certainly was here.  His character was wound very tight.  Gambling addiction is about as bad as drugs or alcohol.  I really felt his desperation.

Barry Sullivan was good and well-cast.  He looked good in his suit.  Eddie was right about so many recognizable faces.

Poor Harry Morgan!  He spent over seven bucks on dinner and a movie and that lady wouldn't even give him a kiss much less anything else.

I think they did a good job with the sets.  Lots of people, some cars, street noise, rain.  Not static at all.

I didn't think The Gangster was a great film but it was an enjoyable way to pass the time and I'm glad to have seen it.

 

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I'm surprised that Eddie didn't give some background on Daniel Fuch's original novel "Low Company" that his screenplay The Gangster was based on. 

The film, and again I'm sure the Motion Picture Production Code had a lot to do with it, never explains details on anything going on between Shubunka, Jammy, and Cordell except some vaguely alluded to take over by Cordell of some rackets.

In the novel Shubunka ran a string of whorehouse operations (that was his racket) in the Neptune Ave. neighborhood of Coney Island. But Shubunka didn't own the properties. It was Jammy the sweet good-natured Ice Cream Parlor owner that actually owned all the physical properties, there is the barest allusion to this during the conversation where Jammy tells Shubunka that there was 125 dollars or so damage done to one house.

Also Karty had a bigger role in the novel. A lot of detail after he brains Jammy and takes off on the subway. If I remember right he ends up getting rolled for his ill gotten gains, but don't remember if he'a also killed or not.

As far as Shorty (Harry Morgan) a lot of novel time was spent of his attempt at conquest of Mrs. Olga Ostroleng

Also I don't think there was a "Belita" type character in the novel, she may have been added by Fuchs in his screenplay. 

The novel was depressing. The movie about a 6/10,

On another tangent Sheldon Leonard always seems miscast to me in every movie I've seen him in.

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15 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I couldn’t make it through THE GANGSTER, although HARRY MORGAN was terrific, Joan Lorring was good, I ADORE Akim Tamiroff, and Barry Sullivan was less boring than he usually is.

It reminded me of a Damon Runyon play, only plotless, deliberately unfunny and with contractions in the dialogue.

 

Plotless is the word. I enjoyed all the recognizable actors popping up and the noirish art direction, but the plot was nowheresville for me too.

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Random notes on The Gangster:

Well, first, I think the title is very generic, and not even particularly accurate. I think of a "gangster" as actually having a "gang", a group of criminals who all work together, under one leader. Barry Sullivan's character, Shubunka, seemed to pretty much work alone. Ok, he had Jammey and maybe a few others working for him, but at no point did it feel like what one usually associates with the word "gangster". I think a much better title for this film would have been the original one, the title of the novel on which it was based: "Low Company". It's much more representative of the world of this film, where much is made of how "low" most of the characters in it are, and it's just a better, more imaginative and appropriate title. Kind of evocative in a way the generic title "The Gangster" just isn't.

I still haven't made up my mind whether I liked this movie or not. I 'm glad I saw it, but like speedracer, I don't think I'll care if I never see it again. It had a very odd feel to it. Often I like sets as opposed to location shootings, and in a way I did like the look of The Gangster. But at the same time, it made it feel more like a play than a film. It seemed very stagey, not just the obviously constructed ( and apparently constructed on the cheap) sets, but in the dialogue and even the acting. And I like all these actors (well, except maybe for Belita...) But a lot of the time the dialogue sounded incredibly self-conscious and as I said, "stagey".  Sometimes this works, but for some reason not so much in this film. In fact, once or twice I thought the screenplay sounded as though it had been written by a Clifford Odets wannabe, and that ain't necessarily a good thing.

About Belita:  usually you can spot a femme fatale character, by the way she will look kind of sneaky even as she's embracing the hero, an expression crosses her face that's hard to interpret, she gives signals, at least to the audience if not to the poor guy she's deceiving, that she will betray him. But Belita gave no such indications. I'm not sure if this was the way she was directed, or her dialogue, or her acting. But  SPOILER I was completely surprised at the end when it turned out she'd crossed Shubunka.

Also - hey, am I the only one who saw a physical resemblance between Belita (Nancy, Shubunka's love object), and Joan Lorring ( Dorothy, the young cashier at the soda shop) ?? Although at no time did I get them mixed up, I thought they really looked alike, definitely the same physical type and kind of face. I wonder if this was on purpose?  I did not like the Dorothy character. You're supposed to think she's "good", but I dunno, she seems to have compassion for everyone except Shubunka, who actually could have used a little compassion. I do like the way, though, that they signal her "goodness" and the fact that she's better than all the confused desperate rabble who frequent the soda shop, by the way we always see her reading. Hey, if I'd done that in any of those kinds of jobs I had when I was young, I'd have been told "we don't pay you to read here" and been fired if I'd kept it up !

One thing I did like about The Gangster (which should have been called "Low Company") is the stories it tells about all the characters in it; despite the suggestion that it will focus on that one character (Barry Sullivan's) it in fact tells a number of stories, about all the people in Shubunka's life. And damn, they're all sad as can be. Jammey, a sympathetic guy, gets killed, but not by the new bad guys who want to muscle in on his business or Shubunka, but by Karty (well played by John Ireland), a desperate gambler who can't pay his debts and wants Jammey to help him out. But Karty doesn't even mean or want to kill Jammey, he's just desperate. Actually, one of the saddest lines in this whole sad movie is what Karty says to his distraught wife; don't remember the exact wording, but it's something like "Get out of here. You and I never had one good moment together, from the day we married."  Ouch !

Then there's poor old Shorty (Henry Morgan), the soda jerk. You have to kind of like a guy who's obviously too old to still have a job as a soda jerk, but who feels he has his dignity none the less. And when that Russian (?) lady kicks him out into her back yard and locks the door on him, after his really awkward attempt to get physical with her, you can't help but feel at least a little sorry for him, if only because he's all dressed up in his suit and had such high hopes, and there he is, ignominiously booted out and left to climb the fence if he wants to get out of there. He's sad, just as all the characters in The Gangster are.

As for Shubunka himself, although everyone talks about what a nasty bad guy he is, we actually hardly ever see him being all that nasty. The one act I can recall where he's actually a bit tough is when he socks Elisha Cook Jr., on the beach. But other than that, all this guy does is grab people by their collars and tell them to settle down. He does not carry a gun or even a knife, and although we see that Belita is afraid of him, there's no scene where he roughs her up or slaps her or anything like that. He just seems like this disturbed depressed desperate guy. A guy who had a rotten childhood, that's why he turned out the way he did (maybe this is the Clifford Odets part I was talking about.)

I think it was Vautrin here who pointed out that it's kind of funny, all this fuss about an ice cream shop, and who's going to take it over. Usually rival mobsters are fighting over a nightclub, or the booze business, or "the numbers racket", or a gambling house. Of course, cigarjoe did enlighten us a bit with his information that in fact it was a bunch of brothels Shubunka was running and that this was the actual business the other guys wanted to take over. But that's not at all clear in the movie.

The unrelenting morose-ness of The Gangster is a bit much to take. Usually in a noir, there's at least a few kind of fun scenes where the characters hang out in a nightclub, or there's a bit of funny, witty dialogue, or at the very least, a few laughs. But none of the "low company" in this film ever even smile, certainly not Barry Sullivan. You want to tell the guy to lighten up !

edit: ps...I never realized before that Akim Tamiroff had such long eyelashes !

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I'm a week behind so I just watched The Stranger. I love Orson Wells as a villian and Edward G. as the "good guy". I also agree that Loretta Young did seem a little too frantic in this film. I was raised in a small town in the 50s and 60s and recognized some of these characters. I can imagine small towns would have been great places for Nazis to hide after the war even though Dargo's four points are certainly credible. All in all I give the film high marks.

I wasn't as thrilled with The Gangster, but they cannot all be winners. I actually lost interest about two thirds of the way through. Since I record Noir Alley, I may go back and try again later.

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10 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

...On another tangent Sheldon Leonard always seems miscast to me in every movie I've seen him in.

Interesting, CJ. Considering Sheldon Leonard was very often cast as a gangster, and probably due to his thick Brooklyn accent, distinctive voice, and his somewhat vague "ethnic" looks, does this mean you've never bought him in that type of role at all?

Personally, I always thought him well cast in..ahem.."dem types o' roles".

(...btw, because I always thought Sheldon Leonard was always so well cast in that type of role, for years I thought it was he who in that classic radio bit of Jack Benny's walks up to him and at first asks Benny is he has a match but then says, "Okay, this is a stick-up! Your money or your life!", and to which you then hear nothing but a rising swell of big laughter coming from the audience until Benny finally replies, "I'm thinking it over!"...but later I'd learn it wasn't Sheldon Leonard playing the robber) 

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Yea that, I'm sure that very accent was his shtick. As a native New Yorker I feel he over does it a bit too much, at least to my ears.

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8 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Yea that, I'm sure that very accent was his shtick. As a native New Yorker I feel he over does it a bit too much, at least to my ears.

Aaah! So's ya sayin' he's always overdoin' it a bit too much, is ya?! 

(...sorry, but that's the best NYC "street" accent this ol' L.A. boy here can muster)  ;)

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I'm thinking my posts about these noirs  are too long. Even I don't always like reading looong posts of many paragraphs. It's off-putting. Henceforth I'll stick to a couple of sentences.

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