Jack Diamond and his sickly brother arrive in prohibition New York as jewellery thieves. After a spell in jail the coldly ambitious Diamond hits on the idea of stealing from thieves himself...
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Jack Diamond and his sickly brother arrive in prohibition New York as jewellery thieves. After a spell in jail the coldly ambitious Diamond hits on the idea of stealing from thieves himself, and sets about getting close to gangster boss Arnold Rothstein to move in on his booze, girls, gambling, and drugs operations.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jack "Legs" Diamond was the alias of John T. Noland (1897-1931) who had one spectacular career in the underworld of the Roaring Twenties. Though we are far from seeing the real story of Legs Diamond, Ray Danton gives us a riveting portrayal of a totally amoral man who uses and discards people in his rise to the top. Diamond's career and this film about him is very much a harbinger of stuff like Goodfellas in the last decade.
Right around this time Hollywood took a nostalgic interest in the gangster era. A whole lot of films like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly an early Charles Bronson starrer, Dutch Schultz Portrait of a Mobster, and Murder, Inc. among others came out at this time. There was even a good series from Warner Brothers television that came out called The Roaring Twenties that starred Dorothy Provine. And of course heading the list was The Untouchables. The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond is part of this trend.
This came from Warner Brothers and they certainly had the best gangster films back in the day. Had this been done back in the thirties, James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson would have been the star. However the best guy for the part back then would have been Tyrone Power. That is the Tyrone Power of Nightmare Alley. Ray Danton's portrayal of Diamond borrows a lot from Power's Stan Carlisle.
This part and Danton's role in the George Raft Story should have made Danton a star, but it didn't, who knows why. Danton gave up acting and settled for life behind the camera, directing lots of television shows.
Other good portrayals in this are Robert Lowery as Arnold Rothstein, Warren Oates as Diamond's brother, Karen Steele as his much used and abused wife, and Frank DeKova in one riveting scene as Lucky Luciano. DeKova is only identified as the "chairman" in the film as Mr. Luciano was very much alive when this came out.
However the best supporting part is Jesse White's as a gangland rival. White who normally plays comic tough guys very well really does a fine job as a rival who Diamond makes crawl for mercy.
Good portrayal of the tumultuous Roaring Twenties though not the real story of Legs Diamond.
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