Wednesday, 31 August 2011

”On this block there’re lots of ‘Babes’.”

One of the things that really make me unhappy is the unfortunate habit of cutting out scenes of classic movies for the German cinema release..
Sometimes on DVD releases the missing parts are cut back in – with new (and by that different) voices or just with subtitles.
Well and of the film I am going to talk about now I apparently miss 6 minutes – which is a shame – because I really, really love this flick!
This means that I might have a different sensation about this film than you – and I might point out things which are wrong from the “original” view. I apologize for that – and hope that some day I will be able to catch those missing 6 minutes.. (I do soo hope it's just part of the credits..)
Anyway - stop the lamenting - start the talking - but first...
...have a hint:
(These are the most important accessories in this film..)

What? A telefon and firearms (apparently colt official police revolvers..) didn't help you??

Ok - how about some movie posters?

~ See? This scene in which Humphrey Bogart carries that girl – it isn’t in the film.. He only touches two women (I checked that..) – and that’s each just a gentle touch on their arm to direct them..
- Blimey!! Did they cut out the “too erotic stuff” for us demure Germans???!? Oooh.. shucks! ~

Don't you know it yet? Well.. - maybe now:

Once upon a time there was a group of organized criminals - called by the press "Murder, Inc."- what would be now known as the Kosher Nostra. In 1944 Luis "Lepke" Buchalter - one of those big mobster bosses - was electrocuted in Sing Sing after it was verified that he was guilty of murdering two persons. His partner Albert Anastasia was set free.

From this events Martin Rackin made a screen script which in 1951 would become one of the most violent films of its decade. It was directed by Bretaigne Windust for a few days - then he became seriously ill and Rauol Walsh took over - after Humphrey Bogart who was the star of the movie asked him to do so..
The film is:


Please notice the badge saying:

"Suitable only for adults" ...

In a nutshell:
Since four years district attorney Ferguson (Humphrey Bogart) is on the hunt to prove that Alfred Mendozza (Everett Sloan) is guilty of committing several murders resp. delegating his men to commit them – and tomorrow the big trial will happen and Mendozza will for sure be on death row - because Ferguson has the perfect witness: Rico (Ted de Corsia), Mendozza's partner.
But then Rico becomes nervous - because even out of the prison Mendozza has his ways and means – and Rico dies due to a self inflicted accident..
Only one night is left to go through all files and notes to find the clue that will bring Mendozza to the electric chair..

“Ever have a tune run through your head and you can’t remember the words?”
Watch out for:
  • Bob Steele (here: Robert Steele) as Herman – a stone-cold contract killer.

  • Harry Wilson as B.J. – Herman’s side kick.. You’ll notice him – quite a familiar face.. - though he is hiding it in the picture above.. But at least you can spot Bob Steele..
  • King Donovan - another familiar face... - as Sgt. Whitlow - and in real life married to Imogene Coca.

  • A rather young Zero Mostel doing a really good job as Big Babe Lazick..

  • The amazing performance of Ted de Corsia! He goes from scared to death back to ice cold and again back to very nervous. This, folks, is brilliancy!

      I might be wrong but I think he is speaking with an accent in the original version – he isn’t in the German dubbing. What I found quite ok – because an accent doesn’t matter here at all, does it? But as I said - I could be completely wrong..
    • You know what: Whatch out for the whole cast! A-MA-ZING!!

    • This was Humphrey Bogart's last film for Warner Brothers.
    • The German title is DER TIGER (= the tiger):

    ~ At least the German poster shows Ted de Corsia quite outstanding.. ~

    • Though Raoul Walsh did the major part of directing this film he didn't want to be credited for what he felt would be Bretaigne Windust's break through.
    • The UK title is MURDER, INC. , the Italian LA CITTÀ È SALVA (= the city is save) and the French is LA FEMME À ABATTRE (I am pretty sure this means: The woman to be killed).

    You should watch this film if you...
    • ... are a fan of real life crime adaptations like PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009) ~ watch that one!! Please!!! ~ or BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967).
    • ... want to see Zero Mostel in a not so funny part.

    • ... are fine with brutality that - compared to today's standards - is less shown than happening in your head ..
    • ... are fond of tough dialogues - real snappy dialogues.. classic film noir dialogues:

      Babe Lazich: "Who calls him on the phone?"

      Philadelphia: "If you're a good swimmer you can ask the guy who found out. He's at the bottom of the river."

    ~ ouch! ~
      - Philadelphia is personated by Jack Lambert - really good, too!

    From real to reel..
    • The language the gangsters use is based on that what the actual mobsters used: "hit" and "contract" for "victim" and "murder". Public learned those meanings during the trial of Louis "Lepke" Buchalter.

      He was the model for the film character Mendozza. "Lepke" is a Yiddish affectionate form for Louis - like "my little Louis" - though Buchalter was no small fish in the pond of "Murder, inc."..

    • The district attorney Ferguson is based on Burton Turkus - the attorney back then during the trial - whose book was released about the same time than this film. In 1952 he hosted a TV show and became known as MR. ARSENIC.

    • Rico is based on Abe "Kid Twist" Reles.

      Like Rico he was about to testify - but fell out of a window of the suite where he was housed by the police. He died due to that - it was never stated wether it was an accident, suicide or a murder. The news papers titled very tastefully:

      "The canary who could sing but couldn't fly."

      His nick-name "Kid Twist" is said to be related to his use of a rope to kill his victims.

    Quotes corner:

    "They made me kill my girl."

    Michael Tolan as Duke is also awesome.. Another one who turns from "ice to puddle".. Never good to start having feelings for the victim it seems..

    “If you run somebody runs after you. So walk.”
    “That butcher is going out of here - a free man.”
    - Everett Sloan as Mendozza -

    Have a look:

    It's a bit short and the quality is mediocre - but it was the best I was able to find..

    I love this line: "You better take a friend with you."

    Let's face the music:

    • The song, which is played on the sidewalk loudspeakers is KISS ME SWEET.
    • The originaly score was written by David Buttolph.

    Murphy's law:

    When Rico leaves the hide-out you can spot a member of the crew in the window of his car - the first time I saw it I thought that it must have been one of the mobsters - but in that scene they didn't were jackets - and they were on the porch..

    ~ This picture after they found a mass grave of the Mendozza firm's victims reminds me of the pictures I saw of the concentration camps in WWII.. all those empty shoes.. ~

    This film really gets me - I watched it three times now - and still find it exciting. Most of the story is told in flashbacks - because Ferguson and his team try to find the missing proof of Mendozzas guilt - it works really fine here.

    I don't think that the production was very expensive - but it really is a great bit of cinematography. And this cast.. outstanding! The story is rather modern - and I can imagine a remake of this film quite well.
    ~ Actually I did a list with my new cast.. - so if Hollywood calls: I am prepared.. ~

    I like that Everett Sloan as Mendozza is not shown for most of the film - in the beginning they talk of him like he was the epitome of evil: "He smiles at me.. ... He'll never die! ... He's not human.."

    This is obviously more of a guy-film: there are only few women in this film – and those are wives, victims or maybe they own the place where the hoodlums meet or the victims live - oh and I think I spotted a nurse somewhere...
    Well, that's just what we females do: having a bit trouble, making a bit trouble, healing a bit trouble..

    The End? Wait and watch!

    Thank you very much for listening!

    Yours (very well) and truly,

    Irene, who actually is feeling horribly whenever she hurts any living thing..


    1. AWESOME! post Irene. More than a review with all the extra stuff added like the various film posters and behind the scenes fact and the captions under the photos. Loved the ever have a tune run thru your head bit. And the trailer where you pointed out here better take a friend. Good stuff. Enjoyed it. Well done.

    2. Thank you soo much, Monty!

      I thought it would be a nice change to add some quotes from the film to the pictures..

      Hope you will enjoy some more posts I'll do.. ;")

    3. Wow, Irene, this is an incredible post! You put in so much wonderful information!

      As I told you, I've never even heard of this film. That's probably because it's one of Bogey's lesser-known movies, and given that I'm not a mega Bogart fan, it just never crossed my radar before. (I dont' hate Bogart, not in the least, and his "Casablanca" is my #2 movie of all time). He's just not on my top 20 list, though he might be on the top 25...if I had one.

      At any rate, I'm quite sure that's the reason I never heard of this film, but you have definitely made it sound interesting.

      On another note, I HATE when movies are missing scenes. I watched "Born to Be Bad" recently. (Fontaine/Robert Ryan film). I recorded it from TCM, but something seemed "off" about it, so I tracked it down on YouTube, and lo and behold, the TCM version had skipped a scene.

      And the first time I saw "Penny Serenade," the scene before the judge was missing. That is a pivotal scene and one of Cary Grant's best performances ever! Why on earth would that be missing?

      Anyhow, thanks again for this great review.

    4. Thank you, Patti. I am glad that you like it. And: You're welcome.

      I didn't know that even America's broadcasts cut scenes.. That really is annoying.


    I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")