Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Norman Alden, Peter Breck, and Vic Morrow
PORTRAIT OF A MOBSTER (1961). Director: Joseph Pevney.

The ambitious Arnold Flagenheimer rechristens himself "Dutch Schultz" (Vic Morrow) and goes to work for Legs Diamond (Ray Danton) along with his old pal, Bo (Norman Alden). But Dutch isn't content working for Legs and goes off on his own, taking over rackets right and left and incurring the wrath of other mobsters as well as the police. Dutch goes so far as to romance the daughter, Iris (Leslie Parrish), of one of the men he murdered, but he gets competition from Detective Frank Brennan (Peter Breck). Iris dallies with both men, marries one, and pays a heavy price for it. Portrait of a Mobster is superior to other mob movies of the same period if for no other reason than the casting of a terrific Vic Morrow [Curse of the Black Widow], who unlike Danton and David Janssen gets across a sinister and barely restrained menacing quality that makes him seem genuinely ruthless and psychotic. The picture is also well-directed and fast-paced, with an energetic musical score by Max Steiner who downplays the romance for pure and hectic action. There's plenty of gang warfare scenes and even a bit with a bomb in a coffin at the funeral parlor! Ray Danton reprises his role from The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, but only has a couple of scenes. Both Breck [I Want to Live!] and Parrish [Missile to the Moon] give very good performances, and there's also good work from Norman Alden and Frank DeKova. The only person Dutch seems to care about aside from himself is Bo. Dutch has a habit of getting up in the nightclubs he owns and singing but his voice is flat and fairly awful.

Verdict: Snappy gangster flick with an excellent lead performance. ***.


angelman66 said...

I remember this one, Bill, caught it on the Late Show a few decades back and enjoyed it a lot. Need to see it again. Great group of actors!

William said...

Indeed! Morrow was an excellent actor who should have had a bigger career before his tragic end.