A highly styled 'genre' film which can perhaps be seen as a pastiche of all gangster movies. Tom Reagan is the laconic anti-hero of this amoral tale which is also, paradoxically, a look at morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. Two rival gangs vie for control of a city where the police are pawns, and the periodic busts of illicit drinking establishments are no more than a way for one gang to get back at the other. Black humour and shocking violence compete for screen time as we question whether or not Tom, right-hand man of the Irish mob leader, really has a heart. Written by
Reagan toasts Volstead outside Caspar's premises during the police raid. Andrew Volstead was the sponsor and facilitator of the National Prohibition Act in the U.S. Congress, which supported the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and effectively established Prohibition. See more »
Caspar repeatedly refers to Bernie as "the Schmatte" - Yiddish slang for "a worthless person". Bernie is Jewish, but an Italian gangster would never use a Yiddish word to refer to him. He would use an Italian epithet, instead. See more »
There are many new movies that have been released on DVD this year. Forget them, and pick up a copy of this movie. It has only recently become available on DVD. The unavailability of this movie on DVD for so many years has been a sin. I own this movie on laser disc and it is one of the reasons that I still have a laser disc player.
I cannot do a better job than the other reviewers have in pointing out what make this film so outstanding. Just let me repeat the usual: The casting is flawless; the dialogue is on the mark, with dozens of juicy bon mots; the humor is sublime; the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous; and the plot, while complex, is still comprehensible enough not to detract from the action.
This movie is as close to flawless as a movie can be.
And one more thing, this movie has nothing in common with either "Yojimbo" (which was itself a rip-off of Dashiel Hammett's "Red Harvest") or "Fistful of Dollars". Well, OK, I'll grant that they both take place in towns dominated by two strong gangs of criminals (as if that's never been the case in any other movie,) but the other plot elements and the dialogue are completely original.
**** out of ****
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