Nick Magellan works for the corrupt businessman Charlie Lupo, who presides over an influential crime syndicate in Manhattan, New York. New York senators belong to the realm of this syndicate. Charlie has a recalcitrant daughter, Kathy Lupo. She is in love with Nick. Nick protects Kathy against her father when she leaves her parental home. Charlie always knows not to be judged, but when one of the senators talks too much during a television interview, he is in the center of a massive fraud research by the law.Written by
a bristling Richard Conte performance, a peculiar film
NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL is a perplexing film noir entry. Among its many merits is the astonishing cast: Broderick Crawford (who spits out his dialogue in Howard Hawks-rapidity as if he were on amphetamines), Anne Bancroft (astonishing) and the always reliable Richard Conte. But it never shakes the feeling of being two films in one, sitting uneasily side by side: a stern "semi-documentary" expose of the "syndicate" on one hand, and a bleak and brutal pre-Godfather mafia family saga on the other.
As such, it is wildly and tragically uneven. The leads all turn in brilliant performances, but the screenplay has all the earmarks of a committee job; fascinating ideas and characterizations butt up against terribly overwrought clichés. The main cast is on fire with weighty dialogue, but the supporting cast flounders about as if they were in the most pedestrian B-noir instead of a star-driven studio picture. For the most part, the design is static and lifeless, shot with little flair by Eddie Fitzgerald. Director and co-writer Russell Rouse's previous noir entry was the chancy THE THIEF, also an uneven experiment.
But the film has its scenes of incredible power, usually those revolving around Conte, as a cold and calculating hit-man for hire, and Bancroft, as the put-upon mobster's daughter who can't crawl out from behind dad's shadow; Conte dispatching with "hits", his gunshots creepily muffled by a silencer; Crawford's repeated near-meltdowns; murderous planning done completely straight in a corporate boardroom, just big business as usual.
A puzzler of a film, leaving the viewer to wonder what could have been, had it been shot by John Alton and penned by, say, Dalton Trumbo. Still, it's an extremely valuable entry in the film noir canon, strangely almost impossible to see.
8 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this