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|Index||16 reviews in total|
The title of this review says it all. In 1951, who knew who Ernest Borgnine, Richard Kiley and Charles Buchinsky were? But in this Columbia noir, made after Broderick Crawford became an unlikely star because of ALL THE KING'S MEN has the lead going undercover to investigate racketeering on the docks, we see how good actors can overcome a basically decent script overloaded with 'snappy' dialog, cheap sets and unexceptional directing. The actors are, frankly, amazing and this is as good as a movie can get with a major flaw like this -- ace DP Joseph Walker can't do much with the studio sets and back projection, but he makes a good effort with a highly mobile camera.
Broderick Crawford is terrific as a police detective going undercover
as a longshoreman. The film begins with Mr. Crawford, while off-duty,
investigating a shooting; when he arrives, he's told to watch the
victim by another detective - only to be left holding the victim (so to
speak). After his "error", he is assigned to undercover as longshoreman
at a mob-infested dock, and locate dangerous mob boss "Blackie".
On the docks, the film really takes off - the story gets very exciting, with hardly a misstep. The camera is a sharp match for the players and script. Note, Ernest Borgnine throws a swell party. Broderick says "Oh, please " like he was born yesterday. "The Mob" has enough twists and turns to keep the interest brewing... to a tight ending.
******* The Mob (1951) Robert Parrish ~ Broderick Crawford, Richard Kiley, Ernest Borgnine
Broderick Crawford plays a cop in this excellent crime drama. (I
wouldn't call it a film noir but I'd say it got to the location of "On
the Waterfront" first. And, in my very humble opinion, pulled together
a better story.) The dialogue has a snappy edge that isn't found much
in gangster movies of this period. The guys -- and it's mostly all guys
here -- have a sarcastic way of communicating. They talk like athletes
or construction workers. I've been both and I know. A lot of calling
each other cheerleaders and other ways of joking about their
masculinity. But it's done in a good-natured, blue collar. There is no
hint of anti-gay sentiment.
Broderick Crawford generally seems so different from his mother it's hard to imagine they were related in that way. But here we pick up his casually comic timing.
Crawford is excellent as a policeman who goes undercover on the docks. Richard Kiley shines as one of the guys -- giving nothing away, here -- he deals with. And Matt Crowley is fine as another. (I checked on him and he played Walter Burns in a TV version of "The Front Page in 1945. Wow! I didn't know there WAS TV in 1945.) The actress playing Crawford's girlfriend isn't bad. She plays a nurse and she seems wholesome. Wholesome and dull. She seems to have few film credits.
This has an authentic feel. And it's different, too. It's definitely a keeper.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Broderick Crawford won the Oscar for Best Performance for ALL THE
KING'S MEN(Columbia, 1949). This crime drama, THE MOB, was undoubtedly
planned as a vehicle tailor made for him.
We see that this film is classified as Film Noir, of which it does seem to have the dark, brooding and the impossible situations for there to be any successful conclusion/happy ending. But this ending is sort of up beat, and it's even one that would fit as the fade-out finale of one of the Chester Morris/Columbia Pictures' BOSTON BLACKIE entries.
The beginning of the movie is done in a somewhat slowly revealing, deliberate and methodical scene that keeps the audience guessing about the integrity of main character,Police Detective,Johnny Damico(Broderick Crawford). His quick paced banter with a jeweler over a diamond ring and its value is just vague enough to lead us to believing It to be some sort of shady deal. Ultimately we learn that Det. Damico and Mr.Jeweler are well acquainted, even friends. The Detective is shown to be a man and an Officr of the Law who has good, decent beliefs and behaviour.
Quite by accident, Det. Damico runs into an on-view shooting. The shooter identifies self as a Police Detective Lieutennant and presents Shield and ID to Damico. It is dark, rainy and the "Lieutennant" manages to split from the scene.
After all is found out, the Police Commissioner assigns the Detective to go underground to ferret out the cause of recent killings, including including that of the real Police Lt. whose shield was used by the unknown killer.
At this point, the story really takes off as Damico feigns the role of a trouble making bad guy from New Orleans. The undercover role takes him to the Waterfront and taking the position as a Longshoreman.
Now at this point, it appears that the film was a story of Labor Racketeering and the corruption that flows from the scene of such an unsavory operation. It sort of resembles, ever so briefly, the not yet made ON THE WATERFRONT(Columbia,1954).
But no dice, once again the Director and production shifts gears and the storyline skews toward resemblance to the Detective Stories that populated the Pulp Magazines and those Radio Dramas which were adapted from the Pulps.
Once again, we see a variant on the theme as the new source of inspiration appears to be the Comic Book cops-n-robbers story as exemplified by Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT.* The chase and the eventual revealing of the Hide-Out HQ and, especially the true identity of the Underworld big shot are especially reminiscent of an Eisner written and illustrated story.
But, then again, we see another aspect of this story in the inclusion of some ultra modern,"Super Scientific",electronic crime-bustin' technology. They seem to take a queue from the James Cagney starring film, WHITE HEAT (Warner Brothers 1949). At a late point in the story, tracking a vehicle via the use of infra red light and pinpointing a location by radio Tri Angulation is introduced.
The film has an interesting cast of people who DON'T look like movie stars. They look very ordinary and much like a cast of characters that you would see in the real world. But that does not mean that there was not talent on display. The Acting Abilities of the cast members are super abundant, as shown by the rise in prominence of so many of the players in the subsequent years.
So, we are treated to performances by the likes of: Mary Kierman, Richard Kiley,Otto Hulett,Matt Crowley**,Neville Brand, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Frank DeKova, Lawrence Dobkin and others.
And, please don't you think that it the purpose of this writer to pan or degrade this film, far from it. The only thing that I can say is: "Hey 'MOB', where have you been all my Life?"
* Much like THE SPIRIT, this offers its moments of levity and the Story is propelled along at a good clip, powered by some clever, witty and even funny dialog.
** Is this the same Matt Crowley who enjoyed a fine career as a Radio Actor, portraying among others, BUCK ROGERS?
ADDENDUM: 9/23/09. The answer is (after all this time is a most emphatic "YES!" It turns out that the multi-media actor was active in Radio (BUCK ROGERS), the Movies (THE MOB), Broadway Stage (THE FRONT PAGE)as well as a multitude of TV Shots too numerous to list here.
Broderick Crawford plays a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate the
mob. And to make them think he's "their kind of guy" he comes into town
with a major attitude and a willingness to slug anyone who gets in his
way. However, this is no routine assignment, as there are lots of
dangerous twists and turns and repeatedly it appears he's about to buy
the farm. I particularly loved the very tense and rather violent ending
in the hospital---you just have to see it to understand.
This film has one of the most important ingredients of Film Noir down pat--it has one of the ugliest casts in film history!! True lovers of this gritty genre know that actors in such films can't be "pretty boys" but ugly and cold-blooded killers. That's why when I saw this film starred Broderick Crawford (king of the hard-drinking ugly actors), Ernest Borgnine and Neville Brand (the scariest looking thug in film history) I was thrilled to see it. Now this ISN'T meant as an insult--I am just stating a fact necessary for a good Noir film. Great Noir abounds with ugly mugs like Edmund O'Brien, John Ireland and John McGraw--though the cast in THE MOB is among the ugliest and therefore best in genre history. In addition to ugly and menacing men, the film also features realistic and gritty violence, tough dialog, lots of great shadows and camera angles as well as a taut script--and all are in THE MOB in spades. All the elements needed for exceptional Noir--so it certainly wasn't a surprise that I really enjoyed the film.
If you love Noir, you will love this film. If you don't, then watch this film anyways!! Then, try some other great Noir films like THE KILLERS, DOA, KISS OF DEATH and ASPHALT JUNGLE--then you, too, will most likely be hooked!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was a good film because (1) it was fairly fast-moving; (2) had
some humorous and clever dialog; (3) was nicely photographed; (4) and
had solid acting. It's tough to ask for a whole lot more.
I'm surprised this film has never been issued on VHS or DVD, at least not to my knowledge. It has well-known actors: Broderick Crawford, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Kiley, Neville Brand and others.
The beginning was very original. Our cop hero, "Johnny Damico" (Crawford) comes across a killing and stops a man in the pouring rain who is standing over a dead body. The upright man has a gun in his hand. Damico stops him, but the man pleads "Don't shoot; I'm a cop" and shows him his badge. "Okay," says Damico, and hands the man back his badge and gun. He then tells him to go over to the nearby drug store and phone this one in while he stays with the body. That's the last our man sees the "cop" who, it turns out, had a fake badge and really was the killer. Unfortunately, the good guy never really got much of a look on the bad guy, too.
Damico, being spared walking the beat for the rest of his life or being demoted to kindergarten monitor - or just plain being kicked out of the force for his (understandable) mistake - is given the option of atoning by infiltrating the local longshoreman's union and getting the goods on the big mobster in town. That part is nothing new in films but it was interesting to see how Crawford talked his way deeper and deeper into the mob.
Also, the characters in this film were colorful. The amount of wisecracks, insults and the like also added greatly to the enjoyment of this film. There were excellent film-noir-type lines in here.Yet, this movie had more of a straight drama or crime film than "noir." The only thing that was odd was when one of the "dames" in here told Crawford a couple of times how cute he was. Broderick Crawford "cute?" Now, there's a first!
Consistent with its simplistic title, "The Mob" is a straightforward cops vs. mob story starring the reliably tough Broderick Crawford. He goes undercover among the longshoremen after being 'suspended' from his police-detective job. He's trying to find the big cheese controlling extortion and payoffs on the docks, and meets up with several shady (or actually criminal) characters along the way. Crawford is his usual no-nonsense self, working his way into the scene with an abrasive coating over a good-cop personality. Neville Brand and Ernest Borgnine have a few scenes as mobsters, and Crawford's dockside pal is played by Richard Kiley. The only confusing part for me was that the TCM description stated that Crawford's character goes "from California to New Orleans" to discover the mob crime, but as far as I can tell, he leaves "town" (wherever that is) briefly, then returns by ship in his undercover mode to the place where he started. Overall, a good-quality crime-fighter movie, worth watching on Saturday night for a B/W movie fan.
I saw The Mob at Cinevent in 2013 and it was the best film of the
weekend. This tight noir is filled with great one-liners and unexpected
Broderick Crawford plays a cop who goes undercover as a hoodlum to try to take down a crime ring. We constantly question whether he is totally legit because his mouth is just as tough as the criminals' he's working to put in jail. The story keeps moving and if you blink you might miss something, but the plot never quite gets away from the viewer. This is realism done with panache. It is unfortunate that this movie has had no formal release because it is certainly worth seeing.
Off duty police detective Johnny Damico (Broderick Crawford) lets a
killer slip through his hands after witnessing a mob hit. Damico is
given a chance to redeem himself by going undercover to break up a
waterfront crime racket and find the kingpin that ordered the hit.
Damico under the assumed identity of small time New Orleans hoodlum
Johnny Flynn, infiltrates the docks to find the big guy known only as
Blackie Clegg. Along the way Damico comes across an assortment of
characters played by then relatively unknown actors like Ernest
Borgnine, Neville Brand, Richard Kiley, and John Marley. Look for
Charles Bronson in one of his earliest screen appearances in an
uncredited role as a dock hand.
Director Robert Parrish works a routine police procedural crime drama that was pretty common at the time, into an edge of the seat mystery. A lot of the credit has to be given to writer William Bowers who Parrish teamed up with on his previous movie Cry Danger starring Dick Powell. Both enjoy a fast paced script with tongue in cheek banter, hinting of the same style that Bowers would use almost twenty years later when he wrote the script for Support Your Local Sheriff! While an actor like Powell would seem better suited for this type role, Crawford just off an Oscar win for All the Kings Men two years before, comes off surprisingly natural as a wise cracking undercover cop.
The Mob though listed as film noir really isn't noir in the classic sense though it does have some of the elements. The Mob is an enjoyable 1950's style mystery crime drama. At a runtime of 87 minutes it breezes by and keeps you guessing. Fans of the genre will enjoy this one.
The Mob is directed by Robert Parish and adapted to screenplay by
William Bowers from the novel written by Ferguson Findley. It stars
Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler, Richard Kiley, Otto Hulett, Matt
Crowley, Neville Brand, Ernest Borgnine and Jean Alexander. Music is by
George Duning and cinematography by Joseph Walker.
Cop Johnny Damico (Crawford) is fooled by a mob killer during the slaying of a witness and is chastised by his superiors. Sent undercover to infiltrate the waterfront organisation to flush out the killer, Damico faces danger at every turn.
He's a cop who is hell bent on atoning for what could basically be a career ruining error. It's this core essence that really oils the pistons of this tough and under seen slice of crime cinema. Awash with characters so shifty it's hard to locate a moral compass in the mix, director Robert Parrish (Cry Danger) takes a standard under cover plot and elevates it to a riveting tale of corruption, paranoia and the search for redemption at any cost.
William Bowers' script positively pings with the sort of dialogue you could cut a joint of beef with, with most of it spat from the mouth of the excellent Crawford. No matter what the situation, what the danger, Damico has a quip or a put down to always exude a calm and carefree menace, he literally is a sardonic miserablist who is unflappable. It's a wonderful characterisation that's helped enormously by a screenplay that contains some surprises, with a nifty plot line standing out that sees Damico hired by the mob to enact a hit on himself! Wonderful.
Parrish keeps the atmosphere side of things on the boil, always ensuring that Damico could be snuffed out at any moment, while Walker's (The Velvet Touch) photography is tight to the plotting. Around Crawford are a raft of familiar faces from film noir, with the villain roll call considerably boosted by Borgine and Brand. From the quite excellent opening murder played out in the nighttime rain, story unfolds in a whirl of sarcasm, set-ups, machismo, stand-offs and mobster machinations. The Mob, under seen and under valued, add it to your "to see lists", especially if you be a fan of Brod Crawford. 8/10
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