Moving from one scam to another Arnold Rothstein quickly becomes rich, and settles into the life of owning big-town gambling joints. Along the way he falls in loves and marries, makes a life-long enemy of a cop on the take, and gradually becomes hardened even to his closest friends.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
[answers the telephone]
International Tobacco. Yes. Just a moment, please.
[Rothstein hands a card to the receptionist]
I'd like to see Mr. Simmons, please.
Oh yes, you're expected. Go right in.
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Although Arnold Rothstein was a great deal older than David Janssen when he portrayed Rothstein in King Of The Roaring Twenties, he does deliver a good performance as the rather bloodless Rothstein who had the heart of a calculating machine. He came by that personality by being a mathematical genius as a child and deciding to apply his talents in the best way calculated to make money. Rothstein in real life and Janssen on the screen spent their lives calculating.
In fact the title is something of a misnomer because Rothstein being born in 1882 to a respectable middle class Jewish family with father played in the film by Joseph Schildkraut, started his career way before the Roaring Twenties set in. His most famous exploit, the fixing of the 1919 World Series is certainly before the Twenties, but when Prohibition came in, Rothstein saw the possibilities.
The characters in the film are mostly fictional and in some cases pseudonyms are used. Jack Carson's farewell big screen role as Tammany politician Tim O'Brien is more than likely based on Jimmy Hines, later convicted by Thomas E. Dewey. Carson is always good in any film he's in.
The two supporting players who stand out are Dan O'Herlihy as a fictional rogue cop who was taking payoffs back when Janssen was a kid and Mickey Rooney who was the best in the film as Rothstein's boyhood pal who meets a tragic end. The women in Rothstein's life are Dianne Foster and British bombshell Diana Dors who do well as typical Roaring Twenties flappers.
The film has the look and feel of The Untouchables TV series which spawned a revival of the gangster films, this time using the real names of the public enemies. The smartest one of them all Arnold Rothstein might well have been called, King Of The Roaring Twenties.
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