Barry Sulivan is a cynical gangster who controls the Neptune Beach waterfront. He runs a numbers racket with the local soda shop owner: the police are in his pocket and the local hoods are on his payroll.
The wife of an alcoholic writer must take a job as a taxi driver to make ends meet. A young man she picks up as a fare befriends her, but when her husband is found murdered, the police suspect she and her new "friend" committed the murder.
Political corruption is vividly depicted as a ruthless WWI veteran takes almost complete control of a state with the help of a crooked lawyer. The film is enhanced by John Payne's persuasive performance as "The Boss."
Dead World War II bomber pilot, Maj. Pete Sandidge, becomes guardian angel to another pilot, Capt. Ted Randall, guiding Ted through battle and helping him to romance his old girlfriend, despite her excessive devotion to Sandidge's memory.
Chubunka is the self-made head of the rackets in the sleazy boardwalk community of Neptune City, a low-rent version of Coney Island. He has become infatuated with a sultry nightclub chanteuse and lavishes her with gifts and attention, spending money on her that might better go to maintaining his hold on his operation. His obsession with her, as well as his pride, clouds his judgment as Cornell, a much more ruthless hoodlum, moves in on Chubunka's territory, bribes and threatens his associates, and compromises his operation. As if in a Greek tragedy, the petty gangster's weaknesses conspire to cause his downfall. Written by
When Jammy gets the note from Cornell's hood, the rain is pouring all around him, but when the camera cuts into his face holding the umbrella, there are no raindrops hitting the puddles behind him. See more »
My advice to you is 'get out!' They'll jump you when you least expect it. Get out of town, Shubunka. They're killers!
Jammey, what did you do? What are you talking about? Did you sell me out?
Did you go over to them?
I wish I did! I wish I could! The trouble with me is I've got a conscience!
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I watched "The Gangster" because of those wily tricksters at TCM, who do such a great job setting up all of their movies that you feel like you simply can't miss whatever terrific gem is on next. "The Gangster" was part of their "Summer of Darkness" series, a series devoted to my favorite film genre: film noir. But "The Gangster" is not a noir, nor is it even a gangster movie. It's more like the character study of someone who happens to be a gangster, and it's pretty underwhelming stuff. Barry Sullivan is the titular character, a heavy with a serious case of self doubt. Around him float a supporting cast of more or less pathetic loners, and the film plays like an examination of the loneliness to be found on the crowded city streets, a loneliness that persists despite being constantly surrounded by fellow human beings. That's a noir theme, but it isn't given a noir treatment by director Gordon Wiles, who won an art direction Oscar in 1931-32 for "Transatlantic." The TCM host said that his production design background is evident in his direction, as the film looks more like a play than a movie. Boy does it, and it's impossible to stage a film noir this way, since noir is, above anything else, cinematic.
But my disappointment in "The Gangster" lies not only in the false advertising of TCM. On its own terms it's still not much more than a mediocre, rather slow movie.
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