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Gangster and cop killer Jack Martin is on the run from the law, and hides out in a small town. Low on funds, he engineers a clever bank robbery that yields him a big bundle. Now he has not only the cops and the FBI after him, but also the local crime boss, who's outraged that an outsider can pull off a heist like that in his territory and not cut him in on it. Written by
Gangster Story may have been more interesting with a higher budget and by ditching the California countryside locations. This story seemed to be in a smaller city (one scene has Matthau driving with cows in a field in the background) so I can't see why there would be such a mob presence here.
The bank robbery was actually quite funny. Matthau used all the wit and charm we saw in later films during this scene. He had a few other humorous lines in this film.
Some of the other dialouge was really stiff though, especially with the supporting cast. Looks like they just took people off the street and gave them lines to memorize. There was some really awful acting here. Matthau himself comes across stiffly in his tender scenes with his real wife. The kissing scene was embarrassing to watch.
Someone in another review made a comparison to the old "Highway Patrol" TV show and I agree. That show also was filmed in the California countryside and desert areas. The old black and white police cars in Gangster Story (minus any identification on them) looked and sounded just like THP cars.
I enjoy watching old, low budget films, though. Especially when it contains a major star in an early role. Kind of a cheap thrill, however, I wouldn't put this on anyone's "Don't Miss" list.
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