Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gangs of New York (1938)

Director: James Cruze

Writers: Herbert Asbury, Samuel Fuller, Charles F. Royal, Wellyn Totman

Composer: Alberto Colombo

Starring: Charles Bickford, Ann Dvorak, Alan Baxter, Wynne Gibson, Harold Huber, Willard Robertson, Maxie Rosenbloom, Charles Trowbridge, John Wray, Jonathan Hale

More info: IMDb

Tagline: War declared on gangland

Plot: The undercover cop Rocky Thorpe infiltrates a crime syndicate being run by the incarcerated mob boss John Franklin. Franklin conducts his business via a short-wave radio concealed in his cell. One day Franklin is caught and placed in solitary confinement. Thorpe, Franklin's physical double, takes his place. Soon changes in the gang's activities are subtly made. Thorpe orders the mob to keep careful records of their activities, to gather enough evidence to convict them all. Trouble ensues when Franklin escapes from jail.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I watched this only because it's a 30s crime picture and the title (I still haven't finished Scorsese's picture of the same name).  It's not that bad.  I rather liked it.  It's loaded with cliches but who cares, it's a 1930s gangster picture.  It's also 67 minutes long and it goes by pretty quick.  That 30s gangster dialogue is always fun.  The performances are good and fun, too.  The story is a lot more ambitious (an undercover cop posing as a mob boss uniting all of the gangs of NY into once syndicate) than the 20-30 minutes allow but it works enough to still be able to enjoy the picture. 

The whole idea of a lookalike secretly stepping into their doppleganger's shoes is ridiculous when you think about it.  I did and only in very particular circumstances can I see it being successful.  If Mrs. Scorethefilm came home one night after working the mean streets of Anytown, USA and into my arms, I don't think it would take but a few seconds to smell the fix.  Even if you feign an illness or a lapse in being 'normal', I'd suspect something was up.  And to that degree, if you had a good hunch that your significant other had been switched out (for whatever reason), would you feel bad about bangin' him/her?  How weird would that be.  I'd love to part of that experiment.  Would the real Mrs. Scorethefilm get pissed?  Probably not.  Considering the circumstance, I think you'd get a pass.  And then the real fun begins when she insists on a three-way.  That leads me to another question, would you have a three-way with your significant other if the third person was YOUR doppleganger?  Hells, yeah.  That'd be one devastatingly handsome mother fucker.  It'd just be taking self masturbation to the next few levels.  It's amazing what can happen when you watch an almost 80 year old movie.

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