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Portrait of a Mobster (1961) and other early 60's gangster biopics


The Old Trickster
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TCM has aired MAD DOG COLL (which is simply awful mostly for reasons of John Davis Chandler's lack of charisma) and KING OF THE ROARING 20s. They've also run THE PURPLE GANG, AL CAPONE and THE RISE AND FALL OF LEGS DIAMOND.

 

I haven't seen PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER since it aired on CBS in the 60s and it's been equally as long since I've seen BABY FACE NELSON which I believe is tied up in legal limbo.

 

MACHINE GUN KELLY was the last film that I ever watched on AMC and that was five years ago. I swore that I'd never subject myself to such abuse again.

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I have 16's of PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER and MURDER, INC. The latter has a brilliant performance by Peter Falk as Abe Reles. I remember seeing PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER on the CBS Thursday Night Movie. It was back in 1968 and it was quite a shocker to an impressionable twelve-year-old!!

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16 mm? Wow, that's awesome! :) Very rare stuff.

I saw Portrait of a Mobster not too long ago when it was briefly available on Youtube and was blown away by Vic Morrow's performance. He could play a heavy character really well. Has there been any word of a DVD release? I haven't heard any. And Murder Inc is a hell of a picture as well. Excellent performance by Peter Falk. TCM should air both movies regularly, they would be great additions to the upcoming schedule.

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>TCM has aired MAD DOG COLL (which is simply awful mostly for reasons of John Davis Chandler's lack of charisma)

 

I have to disagree Clo -- IMHO JDC has plenty of charisma. It's just the wrong kind. He's so relentlessly sleazy that the Deliverance hillbillies seem like suave boulevardiers by comparison. Small wonder that Princeton man and ex pre-med JDC found later roles scarce.

 

If you want to see truly bad acting, check out the Untouchables take on MDC, starring Clu Gulager at his twitchiest.

 

>I haven't seen PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER since it aired on CBS in the 60s

 

I don't think I've seen it since the '80s. Aside from Morrow it does almost everything wrong, including an incredibly sappy romantic subplot and that beloved cliche of Hollywood screenwriters, the henchman with a homosexual subtext crush on the main gangster. Unforgivably, it does not even use the legendary "last words of Dutch Schultz" bit, which William Burroughs later wrote a play about.

 

The superior Untouchables version of Schultz, with a miscast Lawrence Dobkin (he had also played DS in the earlier MDC episode), found time to fit in a brief last words scene, and also (unlike POAM, where the henchman shoots Dutch accidentally at their apartment, and then apologizes for it through tears!) had Schultz correctly hit by rivals at a bar and grill.

 

I recently saw an episode of the Untouchables precursor The Lawless Years, starring James Gregory, which dealt with DS attempting to hit DA Tom Dewey (a plot point which would later pop up in the Cotton Club). Though flatly produced in comparison to Eliot Ness and Co, it did have a lot of interesting details about the actual job of assassination. This episode didn't use the last words bit either, but killed off DS in a street shootout. Curiously, DS's main henchman is played by Norman Alden, who later played the same role in POAM.

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