INSIDE THE MAFIA
(director: Edward L. Cahn; screenwriter: Orville H. Hampton; cinematographer: Maury Gertsman; editor: Grant Whytock; cast: Cameron Mitchell (Tony Ledo), Grant Richards (Johnny Lucero), Ted DeCorsia (Augie Martello), Louis Jean Heydt (Rod Balcom), Carl Milletaire (Dave Alto), Stephen Roberts (Raycheck), Elaine Edwards (Anne Balcom), Robert Strauss (Sam Galey), Edward Platt (Dan Regent), Frank Gerstle (Julie), Carol Nugent (Sandy Balcom), Richard Karlin (Chins), Jim L. Brown (Doug), Michael Monroe (Buzz); Runtime: 72; United Artists; 1959)
“A flat fictionalized version of the infamous Appalachian Mafia meeting in the 1950s…”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A flat fictionalized version of the infamous Appalachian Mafia meeting in the 1950s of all the top crime bosses. In this version, shot in B/W, semi-documentary style, the meeting takes place in crime boss Dan Regent’s (Platt) house in upstate N.Y., in a place called Apple Lake. Grant Richards plays a Lucky Luciano Mafia kingpin-type called Johnny Lucero, returning illegally to the U.S. after ten years deportation. He plans to be here for a few hours on the day of the September 18th for the Mob meeting, sneaking into the country by landing his private plane in the small upstate airport. Lucero arranges for the gangland meeting to reorganize the Mafia after the attempt on his life was uncovered and the Mob’s business isn’t growing at a rapid enough pace for him.
Augie Martello (DeCorsia), eastern boss of the Mafia, arranged for the hit on Lucero, but was thwarted when someone ratted him out. One of Regent’s henchmen, Julie (Gerstle), took the job of rubbing Augie out, but only wounded him. With Augie still clinging to life in an undisclosed nursing home, he is visited by his loyal and ruthless underling, Tony Ledo (Cameron Mitchell). Tony gets his permission to try and rub Lucero out again, this time at the upstate airfield where he will land for the meeting. By overturning Lucero’s leadership, Augie plans to become the Mafia big boss. But this hit of Lucero can only be successful if Augie remains alive, since Tony is too low on the Mafia totem pole to be accepted for leadership by the other crime bosses.
At the tiny airport, Tony, Sam (Strauss), and Chins (Karlin) — three vicious thugs — hold hostage the one-man airport crew, Rod Balcom (Heydt). They hold him in his workplace house, along with his two daughters, Anne (Edwards) and Sandy (Nugent). Their plan is to kill Lucero as soon as his plane lands and then kill the innocent hostages. But complications arise when a state trooper (Brown) visits Anne and a car mechanic (Monroe) who is dating Sandy, comes over to pick her up. They will also become hostages. Dave Alto’s (Carl) plane lands; Alto is someone who didn’t show up to the meeting Tony arranged to go over his plan to get Lucero with the other rebels in the organization. Tony is suspicious as to why he comes to this meeting and not his, being that his wife told Tony she couldn’t get hold of him because he was out fishing.
The hostages get a chance to see how ruthless the Mafia boys are, as they witness the killing of Dave Alto and his pilot.
A news bulletin flash states Augie just died, which causes the worried Tony to change his plans. He will now bargain with Lucero, telling the boss he will spare him but only if he can get the other crime bosses to give him Augie’s place in the organization.
The climax comes when Tony and Lucero attend the meeting, but Lucero outfoxes him and figures out who all the conspirators were and guns them all down before the state police arrive.
Nothing new is uncovered about the Mafia. It all seems like an exploitative exercise to cash in on the public’s curiosity about the Mafia, especially with all the newspaper reports about its real meeting taking place in 1959. There is some nasty action, which includes lots of Mafioso thugs talking tough to the good small town people.
REVIEWED ON 9/13/2000 GRADE: C-