"I'M THE BOSS" "I've Got My Finger In Every Vice Racket. The Police, Senate Investigators, Nobody Can Lay A Hand On Me. They Call Me A Public Enemy, But Someday I'm Going To Name My Own President." I'M THE BOSS See more »
Approximately two minutes after the start of the film, the scene showing the parade of the returning soldiers has several anachronisms: standing with their backs to the camera, there is a line of about a dozen middle-aged or older women, whose knee-length hemlines and style of high heeled shoes wouldn't exist until the 1920s; to the left of the scene, hugging the shaft of a lamp-post, is a young boy wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a tropical-flower pattern, which boys of the First World War period would never have worn; in the center of the background behind the parading soldiers is a car whose windshield and roof style are typical of cars from the 1930s, but which would never have been seen on a pre-1920 automobile. See more »
Based on the story of Boss Tom Pendergast of Kansas City who ruled the roost there succeeding brother Jim from World War I until the outbreak of World War II, John Payne delivers a riveting portrayal of a political boss back in the day when these guys were at their heights running our nation's cities. Mostly, but not all were Democrats who rounded up and registered the foreign ethnic populations and got them to vote for the party slate. In the days before social welfare became a responsibility of government, these bosses while they enriched themselves also fed a lot of hungry people, giving them food and fuel for a winter. Tom Pendergast was no exception there.
When talking about some of the facts of the Pendergast machine operation, the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo under the pseudonym Ben L. Parry sticks pretty close to the facts. In fact Pendergast did do the things described in the film to a country club that high hatted him. The romantic angle however of Payne being in love with Doe Avedon who married best friend William Bishop and then marrying plain Jane Gloria McGehee in a moment of drunken weakness is a complete fabrication. In fact Pendergast's private life as far as we know was a model of probity and he and his wife raised several children, unlike here where he's shown to be a man alone even keeping his wife at room's length away.
The character of Joe Flynn, later Captain Binghamton on McHale's Navy is Harry Truman who was a county judge (commissioner) for Jackson County, Missouri and later United States Senator. Truman himself was honest, but he also winked and nodded at the corruption of others and some of the cronies he put into office as president embarrassed him no end.
Ward Boss Roy Roberts, Payne's brother is James Pendergast and it is true he ran a good chunk of Kansas City from his saloon. It's also quite true that Pendergast did make a deal with organized crime there who did open speakeasies in Kansas City like every place else in the USA. The famous Kansas City massacre did have a bad effect on his public image although not as immediately influential in bringing him down as shown in The Boss.
The Boss is a no frills uncompromising look at the soft underbelly of corruption in America back in the day. It's a well acted drama with John Payne in one of his best dramatic performances.
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