Eddie Rico has been the book-keeper of an important Mafia boss but now he is an honest merchant and lives with his family in Florida. Everything changes when the police starts to search for his brothers. Now Eddie sees himself forced to get in touch with the Mafia again.Written by
Former gangland auditor is persuaded to locate missing brother before mob is compelled to kill him.
For a crime drama, that lengthy opening scene is a surprise. It's marital bliss all the way as Eddie (Conte) and wife Alice (Foster) cuddle up, providing a ton of promotional material for the censored 1950's. But more importantly, all the lovey-dovey defines Eddie's truly reformed character, plus Alice as a wife you'd want to come back to.
For a Karlson crime drama, however, the violence is oddly played down by a director who knew how to make the audience shudder. Instead, paranoia mounts as Eddie sees suspicious characters wherever he goes in search of brother Johnny (Darren). When Johnny is finally confronted by the mob, Karlson oddly passes over the potential of a centerpiece violent scene. I suspect that's because of censorship concerns given Johnny's youth and the emotional buildup preceding it. Also, note how abruptly the final shootout is handled, as if they're suddenly running out of film.
That early scene between Eddie and Kubik (Gates) is a minor masterpiece of treachery that carries through the rest of the film. As the oily family friend, Gates is simply superb. Excellent too is Harry Bellaver's smooth-talking local chieftain, who keeps appealing to Eddie's sense of survival.
As a whole, however, the movie is more a collection of good scenes rather than overall impact. Maybe because there's a curious lack of intensity to heighten the dramatic narrative. Whatever the reason, it's a good crime drama without being first-rate.
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