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Moving from one scam to another Arnold Rothstein quickly becomes rich, and settles into the life of owning big-town gambling joints. Along the way he falls in loves and marries, makes a life-long enemy of a cop on the take, and gradually becomes hardened even to his closest friends. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[answers the telephone]
International Tobacco. Yes. Just a moment, please.
[Rothstein hands a card to the receptionist]
I'd like to see Mr. Simmons, please.
Oh yes, you're expected. Go right in.
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By 1961, splatter guns, bouncing flappers, and real gangsters of the 1920's were a hit on TV, especially with The Untouchables (1959-1963). So it's not surprising the formula would find its way into the movies. Real life gangster Arnold Rothstein (Janssen) gets the treatment here, except there're no splatter guns or much action, but there is lots and lots of talk. Spread out over nearly 2-hour time frame, that's a tough challenge for any 20's crime film. Then add Janssen's turn that's notably low-key and generally emotionless, and the upshot is a disappointingly listless crime film.
I guess the film is best taken as a character study built around a favorite Hollywood theme of one man's rise and fall on the ladder of success. The narrative's mainly about how slickly Rothstein maneuvers through the echelons of urban crime. There's some interest in his conniving, but the account gets draggy with too much slow pacing and mechanical editing. Then too, Dianne Foster's role as AR's ladylove further stretches out the narrative. It's like the producers are also using the movie to promote her career.
Anyway, Janssen was soon to star in that classic chase series The Fugitive (1963-67), where his thespic skills could really shine. On the other hand, I'm not sure what the producers were reaching for here, perhaps an abrupt departure from the Cagneys and Robinsons of old. But what they got instead was a sluggish result that now dwells in well-deserved obscurity.
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