I Mobster (1958)

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The rise and fall of gang lord Joe Sante.



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Complete credited cast:
Joe Sante
Lita Milan ...
Teresa Porter
Black Frankie Udino
Mrs. Sante
Lili St. Cyr
John Brinkley ...
Ernie Porter
Paul Moran
The Blonde
Frank Gerstle ...
District Attorney
Wally Cassell ...
Cherry Nose Sirago (adult)
Jeri Southern ...


Joe Sante wants to be the big man, and nobody is going stand in his way. In a world full of smoke, molls, shakedowns, muscle, and murder, Joe knows what he wants and how to get it. But can he disregard his poor old immigrant parents who are ashamed of his criminal life? Will he drag his sweet girlfriend into the life of the underworld? And most importantly, can Joe trust his mobster friends? Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

January 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gangster Nr. 1  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Ron Soble. See more »


Featured in Wishful Thinking (1996) See more »


Written by Edward L. Alperson Jr.
Lyrics by Jerry Winn
(in credits but not used)
See more »

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User Reviews

The Life of a Gangster!
16 May 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I Mobster is directed by Roger Corman and adapted to screenplay by Steve Fisher from the novel written by Joseph Hilton Smyth. It stars Steve Cochran, Lita Milan, Robert Strauss, Celia Lovsky and John Brinkley. A CinemaScope production, music is by Gerald Fried and Edward L. Alperson Junior and cinematography by Floyd Crosby.

Roger Corman was late in coming to the film noir/crime splinter of film making, but in 1958 he manufactured two very accomplished gangster pictures. Machine Gun Kelly starring Charles Bronson was something of a success, so it was hardly surprising to see Corman serve up another helping of gangster cinema with I Mobster.

Pic charts the rise of Joe Sante (Cochran), from a boy running bets for a local hood, to being the leader of all illegal and violent operations in the city. There's nothing remotely new here as per the genre scheme of things, it is what it is, a straight forward tale of a bad man who finds himself getting deeper in the mire the higher up the hoodlum ladder he gets. On the side of this normal trajectory is how his climb affects those closest to him, notably the two ladies of his life, Ma Sante and Teresa Porter.

Come the resolution of the tale, Joe Sante is hit with the stark realisation of the life he has led. But is it too late for him? Along the way there's some sexy sizzle by way of a show put on by burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr, while Corman even inserts a sex metaphor that's so unsubtle that Hitchcock himself would doubtless have approved.

Corman re-teams from "Kelly" with Crosby and Fried, who once again provide crisp black and white images and furious jazz strains respectively. He is well served by his cast, Cochran is too old for the role as written, but he has a magnetic presence. Milan impacts strongly as the one time honest girl turned moll in the name of love, while Lovsky as Joe's weary mother is hugely effective in conveying a parent with a broken heart. Best of the bunch is Strauss as Black Frankie, he's a larger than life henchman and with the writers affording the character some telling passages in the play, Strauss responds in kind.

Recommended fare for genre fans after a quick fix of gangster shenanigans. 7/10

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