The story of a group of friends in turn of the century New York, from their early days as street hoods to their rise in the world of organized crime. As their crime empire expands, they ... See full summary »
The film focuses on the war of two gangs in 1930s Harlem for the control of illegal gaming - one headed by black strategic godfather Bumpy Johnson and another by white ruthless hothead Dutch Schultz. Negotiations proposed by white syndicate boss Lucky Luciano never get under way, blood flows and Johnson gets jailed. When Johnson is paroled, he gets the work of enforcer for mighty Stephanie "The Queen" St. Clair. She is also jailed for racketeering and when she leaves she makes him promise "no violence". Written by
How great this film could have been! It uses the real history of New York's Gangsters as a background and seems reasonably well researched. At times.
Personally, however, I have several gripes with this movie:
The irritatingly predictable script and much too clean-polished setting seem to come straight out of a "screenwriting-for-housewives" class.
The "messages" in the film (such as its anti-racist and pro-religious scenes) are horribly blatant. The romantic scenes and musical interludes are much too long and boring; the violent scenes too short and clean. Johnson is portrayed as a good gangster at first, which almost works out. His "internal struggle" theme doesn't work at all.
The supposedly elegant Gangster Luciano has to shlep a horrible dog around with him throughout the film. Bumpy Johnson's friend ist forced to do a horrible "funny negro singer" routine, offsetting the supposedly antiracist messages. And that Bumpy Johnson, at the end of the film, finds Gawd and turns away from the evil gangster life is a) predictable and b) idiotic.
"Hoodlum" could've been a great film. As it is, it's merely mediocre.
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