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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hoodlum Empire (1952)

A reformed ex-gangster (John Russell) is subpoenaed to testify against his uncle (Luther Adler), a notorious crime boss in the racket business. Since his uncle is family, he plans to keep quiet. But his uncle's second in command (Forrest Tucker) is an unstable loose cannon who wants to silence the nephew before he can testify. This low budget programmer from Republic pictures is what was once referred to as "ripped from the headlines". The Kefauver hearings of 1950/51 was a special committee of the U.S. Senate investigating organized crime. Here, Brian Donlevy plays the senator heading the committee who served in WWII with the ex-gangster. It's a minor film, almost a footnote in the crime genre though there are elements of noir. Except for one deadly WWII flashback that slows down the film, it's an efficient piece of "B" movie making. Some of the acting is weak (Russell) or downright bad like Vera Ralston as his wife but she was married to the boss (Herbert J. Yates who ran Republic pictures). Best performances come from Adler and Claire Trevor doing another one of her bad girl with a heart of gold specialties. Directed by Joseph Kane. With Gene Lockhart and Richard Jaeckel. 

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