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John G. Avildsen
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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With a screenplay by Jo Swerling, this should have been a dynamite movie. However, with direction by Joseph M. Newman, it winds up being a pointless B movie. No action, no movement, not even really any clear character....
Given a desire to portray an enigmatic character, David Janssen was a potentially perfect choice for the role of Arnold Rothstein, boss gambler and the man who may have fixed the 1919 World Series. Janssen had a striking ability to show an intelligent character clearly engaged in the moment even as he evaluates the situation disinterestedly, an acting ability that he used to perfection on the small screen in both THE FUGITIVE and HARRY O. Yet, except for his scenes with Mickey Rooney (who finally got the chance in this movie to stretch himself in a real acting assignment and comes off as the best in the cast), we get little of that. Instead we get a movie in which each plot point is mechanically foreshadowed and then shown in a rather dull fashion.
There are a few standout performances: Dan O'Herlihy as the corrupt cop is great, but all he does is make you wish the movie is about him. What's going on in his mind and why? Joseph Schildkraut handles his couple of scenes with dignity and care. Jack Carson slides through his role as the head gangster in his typical bluff, understated manner. But the center of this movie starts nowhere, leads nowhere and takes no advantage of any of the strengths of the talents involved.
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