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This is a very underrated B film noir, with Lawrence Tierney at his toughest. If you liked Tierney in Born to Kill, you'll like him here as well. The plot is a common one, but rarely will you see such a vicious character in a 1951 film. There's even a real "dirty word" used in this film (by 1950s standards): "pregnant"! Tierney's performance is not to be missed. He plays a character here with no redeeming qualities (unless you call using his mother a "redeeming" quality), & no remorse. The details of his character's development are fairly well explained; enough of his background is given to understand why he turned out the way he did. For film noir fans, you'll like the darkness of the film, shadows abound, & there's a short narration at the beginning. Lisa Golm (who plays Tierney's mother) also gives an outstanding performance (a little too dramatic at times, but I know quite a few people who act like that in real life); the fact that she strongly reminds me of my grandmother (& was coincidentally born only 9 days after my grandmother) helped me to enjoy this film even more. The most thought provoking aspect of the film is the question of how two brothers who were raised together could grow up to be so different. Tierney's real life brother plays his brother in this film (but he's probably the weakest actor here). I rate it 9/10, but subtract a point if Lisa Golm doesn't remind you of your grandmother!
The Hoodlum (1951)
In this sequel to Nosseck's remarkable Dillinger (1945), real life tough guy Lawrence Tierney reprises his role of a scowling, unredeemable thug (he also appeared in the same director's equally hardboiled Kill or Be Killed (1950). The result is another tight and tough little film, if not quite on the same level. The main reason for this is a plot that's less convincing than Yordan's was back in 1945 when the real Dillinger's famously dramatic life provided excellent inspiration. Yordan, who went on to script such projects as El Cid, was plainly more of an artist than Neumann and Tanchuk, providing the story here. Events are more predictable the anti-hero is even provided with a sentimental death bed scene to weep his belated crocodile tears. Fortunately Tierney plays this final pay off with little sentimentality, even hiding his face rather than letting the audience see him weaken'. As Lubeck, the hoodlum just out from jail finding life too dull working in his brother's pump station, Tierney is once again excellent, up to and including the inevitable denouement. His determined unrepentance creates a thrusting charisma which both Rosa (his brother's girl, whom he briefly seduces, impregnates and discards), the bank manager's secretary and the audience find hard to ignore. As an actor Tierney can manage a cruel arrogance even when working a petrol pump, while Lubeck's cynical disassocation from his family makes him seem a very modern.
Interestingly, almost half the running time of the film has elapsed before he commits his first crime, or even fires a shot. For the rest of the time the hoodlum is brooding, contemplating the raw deal he has been handed, feeling as imprisoned by his humdrum job as no doubt millions of others did (and do) at the time. The difference is that he wants to reach for his big break in dramatic and violent fashion as he has it `all figured out now'. Its the heist he has planned, with the desperate aftermath, occupies the remainder of the film.
Ironically it is Lubeck's mother whose tears soften the heat of his parole board, thereby releasing her vicious son back into circulation. By the end, along with society, she inevitably regrets this decision, but her role in obtaining his release means that, in some respect at least, she is responsible for the anti-social acts he performs. In this light her final scene can be seen as much an act of necessary repentence as it is her reconciliation with reality.
The Hoodlum also boasts a minor first in that Tierney's real life brother Edward appears on screen for the first time, playing Vince's nice-but-dull brother. Despite all his good intentions, he ends up holding a gun on his sibling before literally driving him to his death - an event the significance of which frames the main action of the film in flashback, a typical noir conceit. Edward has little of Lawrence's screen presence, although here the novelty of the casting (which recalls the on-screen partnership of the Mitchum brothers in the cult film Thunder Road (1958 )) makes up for some his gaucheness.
Nosseck's muscular, ever hard to see films are overdue for reassessment. His three with Tierney are generally excellent, although hampered by constraints of budget and length. Also recommended is his British black out thriller The Brighton Strangler, more atmospheric than one might expect, and directed in the same vintage year as Dillinger.
The Hoodlum opens with a montage illustrating Lawrence Tierney's rap sheet,
starting when he was a holy terror still in short pants. From preparatory
work in juvenile hall to matriculation at the Big House, he majored in
recidivism and minored in anti-social personality disorder. When, now a
surly menace, he comes up for parole, most members of the board object but
are swayed by the tearful pleas of his saintly immigrant mother (Lisa Golm),
who thinks he's misunderstood (by the time she's on her deathbed, she's
comparing him to the city dump).
Released, he moves back home. He's reluctantly offered, and reluctantly takes, a job at the filling station owned by his straight-arrow sibling (and real-life brother Ed Tierney, later Tracy; actor Scott Brady was a third brother). But, apart from a personal campaign to prove that the customer is never right, Tierney's main interest is getting into the pants of the bank manager's secretary who works across the street so he can plan his next big job. (He also manages, in his off-hours, to rape and impregnate his brother's fiancée, driving her to suicide.) The rest of the movie recounts the brutal bank heist, which is synchronized with a phonily arranged funeral....
The Hoodlum was made at a time when Tierney's off-screen roughhousing was starting to make him, after striking roles in Born to Kill and The Devil Thumbs A Ride, an undesirable in Hollywood. It's a short, stripped-down, starvation-budget programmer. Still, it shows those ragged edges that more artifice might have smoothed away (the rape and pregnancy are startling for their era); a few plot strands seem like distant echoes of the incomparably superior White Heat, of two years earlier. The most noteworthy aspect of The Hoodlum's script is that Tierney undergoes no character development whatsoever: He starts out as a cur and dies like a dog.
"The Hoodlum" is a brisk, entertaining b-film with another terrific
tough-guy performance from Lawrence Tierney. Whenever on camera,
Tierney is compulsively watchable (and makes up for the poor acting he
is surrounded by) and has an incredibly intimidating screen presence.
Its a shame he wasn't given a fully developed character to work with
and that he was never able to become a big star due to his
self-destructive personal life (his characters mirrored his real life
actions often). Tierney is slightly over-the-top but believable as the
title "hoodlum". The rest of the supporting cast is mediocre,
especially Tierney's real-life brother Edward Tierney (was Scott Brady
unavailable?). Their woodenness is overshadowed by Lawrence Tierney
completely and this is one of his best roles.
The film itself is unconvincing and ludicrous, but quickly paced enough at its compact running time of 61 minutes. Viewers don't search for credibility in their b-films, they look for some cheap lurid thrills and a quick pace. The ultimate crime films such as this can commit is being boring. "The Hoodlum" is certainly never boring. Its nothing new or fresh, but the story is present with much force. Its good rainy day entertainment and worth watching if only for Tierney. Hes great in almost everything he does. (6/10)
Got a chance to watch this little noir/crime film recently and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It's a quick movie that clocks in at about 61 and a half minutes and there is no denying that it was a very low budget programmer but it was quickly paced and had some nice touches. Lawrence Tierney is at his nastiest as lifelong criminal Vincent Lubeck. The film opens with Tierney in a car being held at gunpoint by his brother(real life brother Edward Tierney) Johnny and then goes back in time to take us through what lead up to this point. We get a neat narrated, documentary style montage about Vincent's life of crime to start things off. Nice noir touches along the way as shadows abound and for the most part, the performances are very good. Several scenes in the film sort of reminded me of the vastly superior WHITE HEAT. Several things kind of startled me from a film made in 1951 like rape, suicide and the word "pregnant"! All in all, a pretty entertaining little film and a nice way to kill an hour of your time.
This is typical but quite entertaining B movie fare. Well, not completely typical because the main character of such fare is generally more sympathetic than Lawrence Tierney is here. He's a guy you love to hate as he gets paroled thanks to his sweet and loving mother and then proceeds to be a total heel, raping and impregnating his sister-in-law, robbing a bank and just an overall not-nice guy. He doesn't even evoke sympathy at his dying mother's bedside and that's one of the perverse charms of the film. The ending in a dump is quite satisfying and prompts a feeling of good riddance to bad rubbish. This is a typically short little B film, cheaply made, ludicrous at times, but fun to watch and one which will be appreciated by fans of 40's and 50's 2nd features.
This is a very harsh movie about a very harsh man. It has the scene where the elderly mother comes to the parole board and begs them to let her little boy go. They oblige and that sets the events in motion. The man is a sociopath, using anyone who gets in his way. He is bad to the bone. He plots a big heist and never stops until it is accomplished. Unfortunately there are forces working against. The final scene with his mother is quite striking and can't help but pull a manipulative tear from anyone. The movie goes along quickly with us wondering if the guy will ever see the light. One of the weaknesses is that we are more tuned into victims and when it becomes obvious that this guy is barely human, we see him as a force rather than a man. It's nicely filmed and brings that blackness where criminals chose to be criminals and it was the job of the law to put them away. It's interesting for its time.
A particularly nasty slice of thick ear. Looks like the movie's a
vehicle for Tierney's brand of deadpan tough guy. And that's the way he
plays it except for a Cagney-like soft spot for his ma. Then too,
Vincent's (Tierney) seduction technique is right out of Caveman 101,
leaving poor sweet Rosa (Roberts) devastated and with child. No wonder
his brother (the other Tierney) wishes him on a garbage heap with the
other trash. Where Vincent goes, ruin is bound to follow.
This is a poverty row production, to say the least. The exterior sets are pure 99-cent store, especially the bank's tacky cross street. The robbery scene, which should be the centerpiece, fails to deliver the expected tension. I know cult director Nosseck is capable of better, but was likely cramped by a shoestring budget.
Actually, it's the acting that comes across best. I particularly like Riordan's savvy, sexy Eileen. As Vincent's foil she's tough enough to be convincing. Older actress Golm also manages well the difficult role of the long-suffering mother.
Is the movie noir. In my book, it is only in the loosest sense. The movie's more gangster than noir, especially when the lighting looks more cheap than artistic. Plus, there's nothing ambiguous about Vincent's life of crime. The narrative is more like an emotional buildup to the day of reckoning than it is about shades of gray. I just wish tough guy Tierney could have stayed sober and out of trouble long enough to have the career his talent merited, which is the main reason to catch this otherwise forgettable feature.
After five years in the jug, a hard-bitten criminal is reluctantly freed by the skeptical parole board, largely on the pleas of his elderly mother; in no time flat, the hood--now pumping gas at a service station owned by his brother--is plotting the robbery of an armored car along with his cronies. Reunited from the low-budget, critically-acclaimed 1945 gangster film "Dillinger", director Max Nosseck and actor Lawrence Tierney are unable to make lightning strike twice. There are some amusingly rough and tough moments but, curiously, this effort is even more cheaply made than the duo's last (and it only runs an hour!). Opening with a brief flash of the epilogue, the flatfooted narrative then precedes to the jailhouse with some ridiculously melodramatic overacting. Tierney is a solidly unsentimental anti-hero, quick-tempered and rotten to the core, yet he connects with the audience instantly. He might have become a star on the level of Cagney or Bogart had the proper vehicles come his way. This one is just a time-waster, though the logistics of a complicated robbery provide minor interest. ** from ****
I read on IMDb that a new restored version of this film was just
released. However, my review is based only on the public domain
version--which may or may not be roughly the same picture. How much
restoration was done is unknown to me.
The film stars Lawrence Tierney and one of his real-life brothers. For some very, very fascinating reading, read up on Tierney's life--he was an incredibly dangerous sort of guy--and a lot like the sociopathic character he played in this film. Now that Tierney has passed away, I have no trouble saying this...otherwise I'd keep my mouth shut, as even as an elderly guy he was quite the unpredictable terror! But, I should point out, that because Tierney was such a screwball, he was able to play some of the most menacing and convincing criminals in noir films such as "Born to Kill" and "Reservoir Dogs".
Lawrence Tierney plays an angry man who was just paroled. Instead of learning from his mistakes, he has an incredibly bad attitude and blames everyone for his problems...everyone but himself. It's obvious that despite his family trying to help him go straight, this hoodlum is determined to return to a life of crime. After all, in his mind the world owes him something and working hard at a real job is for suckers! This unrelenting badness made the character terrific and dark even by film noir standards. He destroys his brother's girlfriend, kills with no compunction and attacks everyone around him--making him very memorable. As a result, the film takes a rather ordinary story idea with a small budget and makes it much more. It's gritty and far more realistic than a typical film of the era--and well worth seeing for fans of noir.
If you do see the film, some particularly noteworthy scenes are Tierney slapping a woman as well as the final scene between him and his horrified mother and brother. Great stuff! By the way, in an interesting bit of casting, Lawrence Tierney's real-life brother, Edward, plays his brother in the film as well!
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