The Gangster (1947)

US Warner Brothers Archive Collection DVD

The Gangster

Text below written 2016-11-02


A Fine follow-up to the powerty row production moguls The King Brothers 1946 Hit movie Suspense, and with
Barry Sullivan and Belita in it. But, without any skating/dance from figure skater and dancer Belita this time and she
has a slightly smaller part this time as the harassed and the unhappy girlfriend of the Gangster.

The film starts with an inner monologue in narration from Barry Sullivan's racketeer Shubunka ... "I had nothing to
be ashamed of .... i worked the rackets". The films gangster rules the rackets in Neptune Beach (in New York),
a place where the New Yorkers spends their money on a fine day, and he works out of a Soda parlour owned by
Jammey (Akim Tamiroff, the great Orson Welles connected actor). Shubunka, a man of very low self esteem and
with a rough childhood and an early entrance into crime .... "i've nothing to be ashamed of"
. He's filled with rage and
sadness and torments his girlfriend with his jealousy. Shubunka is a sociopath and portrayed brilliantly by Barry
Sullivan in a Feel Bad performance of magnitude. He acts like a tough guy but when bigger fish moves in on his
turf, his rackets in Neptune Beach, he has nothing but talk to oppose with, no stronghands, no fire power.

Belita and Barry

Shubunka is tough and cynical about life and people and wears the same hard stone face almost through the whole movie.
Yes, he's not a very likeable guy and he torments both his girlfriend, nightclub singer Nancy Starr (Belita) and himself.
He has a numbers racket going on and he spends all his earnings/savings on Nancy, luxurious furs etc.
So, when other racketeers notices this his weak point, they move in on him and without money ... and friends, maybe due
to his hedgehog spikey personality ... he's helpless, and soon he's the hunted and desperate in fear for his life.
You shouldn't care much about his fate i guess, if not for Barry Sullivan's performance, he's great and you feel sad for him.

Another unhappy couple

There are some other interesting characters in this film also. In the pic above we see the desperate gambler Frank (John
Ireland) and his wife (Virginia Christine). Frank is a bummed up accountant commiting crimes to get money for gambling
and when Shubunka denies him a loan (to pay back the money he's stolen from hos wife's brother's business) Fate makes
a trap for Shubunka when Frank does something Bad. There's the young Soda Parlour cashier Dorothy (Joan Lorring) who
meets every attempt from Shubunka of being nice to her with ice cold contempt, something that makes him exasperated
and even more miserable, fueling his self loathing hidden just below the surface of his tough exterior.
In very small parts as enforcers we can see Elisha Cook, Jr. and Charles McGraw and the legendary Dalton Trumbo is
said to have helped out with the screenplay (he was later blacklisted).
Shelley Winters can be seen in an uncredited very early performance as the cashier substituting Dorothy
4:3 fullscreen original ratio, black & white, english audio mono, no extras

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