This is a very competent gangster flick from 1992, chronicling the life of Dutch Schultz. The production crew seems from their names to be almost entirely of Russian descent (curious) with good representation in the writing department and direction from Jewish backgrounds. The latter is important in the sense of getting the main character (Arthur Fleggenheimer aka Dutch Schultz) "right" in terms of his place in the ethnic society of New York City in the early thirties. Curiously, however, the rise and fall of Dutch is without a point of view. Events are chronicled with no "take" by any of the characters on what is happening in their lives. Without this point of view, the film ultimately falls within the category of "action" rather than "drama."
Most enjoyable are the supporting performances from Eddie Bowz as Joey and Sally Kirkland as Emma - the former winning and heartbreaking, the latter a marvelous "character" turn - Sally is practically unrecognizable. Bruce Nozick as Dutch plays snide and mean with no nuance. The brief appearance by Yelena Skorokhodova as Anastasia is full of potential, but she disappears almost as soon as she is introduced. Christopher Bradley as Vince Coll receives sixth billing and has approximately sixteen scenes - his is a brooding performance with the darting eyes of a caged animal, constantly gauging his path of escape. He does a very good job. The score by Terry Plumeri is of surprisingly high quality and the cinematography by Nicholas Josef von Sternberg (we want to know more - is he a descendant of the great director or did he simply change his name) is cold, raw and very well lit.
All in all, a perfectly enjoyable film of the genre. Not great but certainly not at all bad.
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