The ambitious Stanton "Stan" Carlisle works in a sideshow as carny and assistant of the mentalist Zeena Krumbein, who is married with the alcoholic Pete. The couple had developed a secret ... See full summary »
Small-time crook Nick Bianco gets caught in a jewel heist and despite urgings from well-meaning district attorney D'Angelo, refuses to rat on his partners and goes to jail, assured that his wife and children will be taken care of. Learning that his depressed wife has killed herself, Nick informs on his ex-pals and is paroled. Nick remarries, gets a job and begins leading a happy life when he learns one of the men he informed on, psychopathic killer Tommy Udo, has been released from custody and is out for revenge against Nick and his family. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
What happened? You came here to tell me what happened. Why did you change your mind? Scared of hurting me? Look, Nettie... I'm the kind of guy you can't hurt. It doesn't matter.
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This film is "required reading" in the study of gangster films, mostly because of Richard Widmark's exceptional and truly frightening performance as Tommy Udo. Interestingly enough, 43 years later, actor Joe Pesci would also terrify movie audiences with his portrayal of another psychopathic gangster, who also had the rather benign name of 'Tommy'. However, unlike Pesci, Widmark never had another particularly memorable gangster role after this one.
While a lot of the story is realistic, some of it is far-fetched - mainly, the end. Only a complete lunatic would even think of walking into the headquarters of a gangster that he had just testified against and expect to come out alive. However, the tension in that restaurant confrontation scene is effective, and I suppose for the era in which this film was made, it was necessary to have the 'good hero' face down the 'bad bully' and put him in his place. In reality, of course, it just doesn't happen that way in the world of crime.
But what makes this film is Widmark, and to give an idea of just how effective he was, when this film first came out, a real-life NYC mobster(Joey Gallo) would watch it and earnestly try to imitate Widmark's style and mannerisms, thereby enhancing his own skill in intimidating others. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
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