GANGSTER, THE(director: Gordon Wiles; screenwriter: Daniel Fuchs/from the book Low Company by Mr. Fuchs/Dalton Trumbo-uncredited; cinematographer: Paul Ivano; editor: Walter Thompson; music: Louis Gruenberg; cast: Gordon Wiles; cast: Barry Sullivan (Shubunka), Belita (Nancy Starr), Joan Lorring (Dorothy), Akim Tamiroff (Nick Jammey), Henry Morgan (Shorty), John Ireland (Karty), Sheldon Leonard (Cornell), Shelley Winters (Hazel); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Frank King/Maurice King; Monogram; 1947)
“Moves along not in the traditional way of tracing the rise and fall of a protagonist.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A Poverty Row crime melodrama that has its moments of traditional crime, but moves along not in the traditional way of tracing the rise and fall of itsprotagonist. Instead the film noir is more concerned with establishing a forlorn mood and being artistically stylish, as director Gordon Wiles (won an Oscar as art director for the 1931 Transatlantic) creates a theatrical piece that is unnecessarily stagelike and much too pretentious for the modest storyline. It is adapted by screenwriter Daniel Fuchs from his book Low Company, and much of its too arty nature is attributed by rumor to the uncredited role Dalton Trumbo played in the screenplay.
Shubunka is played with verve by Barry Sullivan. He’s a racketeer who is scarred because he was raised in the slums. As an adult, Shubunka chased power and riches as he rises from a small-time thug to top-dog of the criminal set, becoming so dedicated to being a crime boss that he has no time for friends.
At a pivotal point in his life, gangster rival Cornell (Leonard) is trying to overthrow him and Shubunka is so mentally twisted he ignores the danger warnings of his crony Jammey (Tamiroff). Instead Shubunka spends his time excitedly jealous over his moll, Nancy (Belita-skating star). When he should be attending business and protecting what he built from scratch, he instead returns to his slum neighborhood and hangs out in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor yearning for the acceptance of a proper young girl named Dorothy (Lorring).
Warning: spoiler to follow in the next paragraph.
Shubunka gets involved with bailing out an addicted gambler named Karty (Ireland) from his financial problems. But the unreliable Karty gets into a deeper gambling hole and double-crosses his pal to his rival. It leads to a final shootout between the rivals on the dark rainy city streets, where Cornell’s men put him out of his misery.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2004 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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