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This film was edited from at least a dozen episodes of a TV series. At the time of the series there was a public outcry in the USA because the makers 'glamorised' the subject. There was also the express intent advertised by the family of Meyer Lansky to sue the makers. You would never think so from this adaptation which, one assumes, must be the point of it.
By today's standards, due to the visual 'shorthand' now developed, the plot pace would appear slow but because the 'structure' of the story has mostly been lost in the cutting the viewer, who has no factual knowledge of the life & times of the gangsters depicted, won't know how the links organically developed between the many 'careers' presented. This condensation has produced a very disjointed and skewed picture of what these actually were.
The TV presentation was certainly glamorous; but the 1920's and early 30's was that kind of period with often stunning clothing for both men and women. It was faithful to it and, as the histories of the people involved have become more widely documented, to those also. The ragged and tattered remnants of the original series show more than anything else the duplicity, amorality and violence these people were capable of. Enough there to satisfy any lobbying crusaders against moral depravity.
What the film does however, is to massacre, to leach, the joi de vivre and the sheer enjoyment of the period out of the TV series and give the public a turgid, colourless product. Yes, these are bad people; their way of lifting themselves out of the gutter often despicable but why is it wrong they never loved, laughed or enjoyed themselves. Did they also stop being human and become one dimensionally wicked as depicted in the film? Perhaps it was impossible to edit the TV series into anything other than this improbable rendering in the running time they allowed themselves; being charitable this assumes the people responsible actually had some talent. In the event they should have left well alone.
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