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Saturday, February 15, 2014

HOODLUM EMPIRE (1952)

Well, here’s something unexpected: ALL ABOUT EVE/’50 meets the Kefauver Hearings on Organized Crime/’50-‘51. The story follows a returning soldier-boy, freshly decorated after overseas duty in WWII, who fights from getting pulled back into the family mob biz. (Why it’s EVE meets Kefauver meets THE GODFATHER/’72!) Stuffed to the gills with B+ character types (Brian Donlevy, Claire Trevor, Forrest Tucker, Gene Lockhart, Luther Adler) and bits for fresh faces who’d be around for decades (Whit Bissell, Richard Jaeckel, Bill Schallert), this rare non-Western from Republic Studios should be more fun than it is. But leading man John Russell and megger Joseph Kane find themselves all but lost working territory far off the range, especially with a script that lurches toward inanity as multiple P.O.V. flashbacks (that’s the ALL ABOUT EVE part) keep interrupting the big Committee Hearing as our heroic soldier-boy fights to clear his name. Lenser Reggie Lanning tries for a rich film noir look, but he’s defeated by meager production values, cityscape cycloramas that would have defeated Alfred Stieglitz, director Kane’s flat action staging and a shoot ‘em up finale that turns unintentionally comic.

CONTEST: This film’s Godfather character was, in real life, closely connected to that other Godfather (Marlon Brando) even though they never made a film together. Come up with the connection and win a MAKSQUIBS DVD Write-Up of your choice.

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