(director: Burt Balaban; screenwriters: Edward Schreiber/material by Leo Lieberman; cinematographer: Gayne Resher; editor: Ralph Rosenbloom; music: Stu Phillips; cast: John Davis Chandler (Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll), Kay Doubleday (Clio), Brooke Hayward (Elizabeth), Jerry Orbach (Joe), Telly Sevalas (Lieutenant Darrell), Neil Nephew (Rocco), Joy Harmon (Caroline), Glenn Cannon (Harry), Vincent Gardenia (Dutch Schultz), Tom Castronova (Ralphie), Gilbert Leigh (The Official), Stephanie King (The Official’s Wife), Ron Weyand (Big Larry), Gene Hackman (cop); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward Schreiber; Columbia; 1961-B/W)

“The low-budget crime drama is merely an exploitation film, one that is predictable and tedious.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An inconsequential old-fashioned crime biopic, with no surprises and facts that are wrong. It tells us of a violent psychopath NYC gangster, Mad Dog Coll (John Davis Chandler), who reigned in the 1920s and was known for being gunned down at the age of 23 in a Manhattan phone booth in 1932. It’s poorly helmed by Burt Balaban (“The Last Good Time”/”Parents”), the son of the Paramount studio head, poorly paced by editor Ralph Rosenbloom and the black-and-white film was lamely written by Edward Schreiber. Though it details several of Coll’s noted crimes and his rivalry with the bootlegger Dutch Schultz (Vincent Gardenia), we learn precious little about him. He’s presented as a one-dimensional cartoon-like character.

Coll’s first seen as a bullied Irish kid living in the Bronx with his sadistic abusive father, but by 17 he’s become the neighborhood bully and leads a local gang. The gang tries to muscle its way into the mob.  At this time he’s attracted to a nice girl,a young musician, Elizabeth (Brooke Hayward, daughter of actress Margaret Sullavan), but she rejects him as a bad guy. In response, he rapes her. Coll then connects romantically with a nightclub stripper, Clio (Kay Doubleday), who loosely narrates the film.

During a Manhattan waterfront gang fight where innocent children are slain, he earned his nickname ‘Mad Dog.’ He had already become a hated figure of both the police and rival gangsters, when Coll and his gang pal Joe (Jerry Orbach) flee the scene. The insane Coll kidnaps a member of Schultz’s gang and kills him while referring to him as his hated dad. Joe has enough of his deranged cohort and tips off his location to the police. While making a phone call at a drugstore, the cops bring Coll down in a burst of machine-gun fire.

The low-budget crime drama is merely an exploitation film, one that is predictable and tedious.

Mad Dog Coll (1961)

REVIEWED ON 1/5/2020  GRADE: C+-