This week, The Gangsters All Here makes a bid for legitimacy with a film-noir gem titled The Big Combo. It stars Cornel Wilde as Police Lt. Leonard Diamond, who is on a one-man quest to bring down Mr. Brown (ultra-slick Richard Conte), a racketeer who appears to control everything and everyone in town except for Lt. Diamond. The worthy supporting cast includes Helen Walker (in her final film role), Jean Wallace, and Brian Donlevy (who seems to play a slobbering syncophant in about every other one of these types of movies).
And my dear online blogger-friend Salome at BNoirDetourwould never forgive me if I didn’t mention two other memorable supporting actors: Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman as Mr. Brown’s henchmen Fante and Mingo. When I first watched this movie, I regarded this less-than-dynamic duo as simply the movie’s answer to Of Mice and Men‘s simpletons George and Lennie. But Ms. Salome finds a fascinating homoerotic subtext to this pair’s relationship, right down to their sleeping in separate but nearby beds. You decide.
Are you kidding? With all of the aforementioned juicy plot elements, plus a jazzy score from Laura‘s David Raksin, this movie can’t possibly get less than 5 out of 5 fannies. You’ll want to stay put right up to the movie’s final shot (which unapologetically apes, er, does a homage to a legendary film from the 1940’s). See you this Saturday!
When a 1948 movie opens with a message crawl from J. Edgar Hoover, you can bet it’s going to be a love letter to the F.B.I. This week’s gangster-infested scumfest, The Street with No Name, tells how the Feds sent in one of their own to infiltrate a nasty gang and demobilize it — because, darn it, you know that’s what J. Edgar insisted upon!
When a crime wave blows through “Central City” (which looks suspiciously like Los Angeles), FBI Inspector Briggs (Lloyd Nolan) provides rookie agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens) with the new identity of “George Manly” (Note that last name!) and sends him undercover. Soon enough, “Manly” becomes part of Central City’s major gang, led by mastermind Alec Stiles. Don’t be fooled by that milquetoast name — we know right away that Alec Stiles must be bad, because he’s played by…
Looks like the FBI and George Manly have their hands full with this one!
On a scale of 1 to 5 fannies, I rate this movie a 4. This is good-guys-vs.-bad-guys played to the hilt, the “good” represented by a ripe-for-parody monotone narrator and frequent unsubtle nods to the virtue of the FBI, and the “bad” represented by gangsters spouting endless street slang, hoisting drinks, and packing rods. Did I mention that Richard Widmark is in this movie?