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The Boss (1956)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | October 1956 (USA)
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."

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, (front for Dalton Trumbo)
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Matt Brady
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Bob Herrick
Gloria McGehee ...
Lorry Reed (as Gloria McGhee)
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Elsie Reynolds
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Tim Brady
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Stanley Millard
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Ernie Jackson
Robin Morse ...
Johnny Mazia
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Stitch (as Bill Phipps)
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Henry
...
Tom Masterson
Bob Morgan ...
Hamhead
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Storyline

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."

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"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 »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

October 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le Boss  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The wire-rimmed glasses worn early in the film by Joe Flynn are of a style not introduced until the 1930s. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Trumbo (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fast, complex, well acting, with great writing...a familiar subject well done!
12 August 2013 | by See all my reviews

The Boss (1956)

This is kind of a great movie, a surprise to me, and with some stunning performances, great photography, and a sterling script (thanks to Dalton Trumbo). See it.

While the acting and visuals are going to get you immediately, the script will sneak up on you if you are paying attention. This is a movie begging to play with clichés, and it avoids them. Don't get me wrong, a mob boss in a small city is going to play tough and have cronies and the like. It's a good crime movie, for sure, and believable enough.

But there is, for example, no femme fatale (this is probably not a noir, strictly speaking, even if the dark crime mood makes you think so, but there are lots of noir characters and attitudes). The movie begins a bit off-kilter, I think, but if you think of it as a set-up for what a normal life would have been for the main character, it's necessary.

You see, Matt Brady (played brilliantly by John Payne) is a returning soldier with hopes of marriage as he marches in the opening parade. But then he gets drunk that first night home and things go very south. In another turn (not explained much) he starts rising up as a political and crime figure, becoming the big cheese.

This sounds like a Cagney or Robinson movie from the early 1930s, I suppose, and this movie is set in the 1920s for the most part, as well. But it has a different feel to it, and if you like those kinds of movies you need to give this a try. In addition to a friendly sidekick and his wife, who are regular sorts, there is a whole array of criminal types played well, with flavor but not exaggeration.

Why isn't this more well known? One reason is distribution--the only copy that I know of is a decent visual transfer with terrible sound (on Netflix). If Criterion took this up (or anyone, but I don't think a big studio owns it), it would glisten and be a late great example of its type, coming in the mid-50s as this kind of film was seeing its last days.

Payne, by the way, might be thought of as underrated--he certainly pours it on here, emotionally--and most of the movies I've seen him in he's a compelling type ("Kansas City Confidential" and "99 River Street") though he's a different and more boring guy in "Miracle on 34th Street." Here, the strong and silent type (Gary Cooper style) doesn't get carried too far. He bursts out at times, and has good physical energy on the screen. He might not be handsome enough for Hollywood, but that's a matter of taste, and tastes change.


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