Paramount // 1963 // 800 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // August 2nd, 2012
"The Gangland's All Here."
Before they were stars:
* Robert Redford (Sneakers) was Jackson Emmit Parker, a cheeky young Ivy Leaguer, fresh out of college, and ready to school Frank Nitti (Bruce Gordon) on the finer points of bootlegging. Nitti was not amused.
* Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now) was Eddie Moon, a cornet blower whose hot jazz proves irresistible to the wife of a murderous gangster. The wife in question was played by Kathleen Nolan (The Real McCoys), who certainly knew a thing or two about proving irresistible.
* Rip Torn (Men in Black) was Johnny Mizo, a psychotic hood holding his own family hostage, while the Feds vie with mobsters to find him first. The Feds prefer to take him alive.
* Jack Klugman (Quincy, M.E.) was Solly Girsch, a self-deprecating schlemiel that ends up becoming this biggest bootleg booze distributor in the crime capital of America. But how? Klugman's Jekyll and Hyde performance is a thing of extraordinary beauty.
These are but a fraction of the characters making trouble for The Untouchables during the last sixteen episodes of the series' fourth and final season.
* "The Snowball"
* "Jake Dance"
* "Blues For A Gone Goose"
* "Globe Of Death"
* "An Eye For An Eye"
* "Junk Man"
* "The Man In The Cooler"
* "The Butcher's Boy"
* "The Spoiler"
* "One Last Killing"
* "The Giant Killer"
* "The Charlie Argos Story"
* "The Jazz Man"
* "The Torpedo"
* "Line Of Fire"
* "A Taste For Pineapple"
Paramount's quality control department deserves a twenty one gun salute for the near pristine look of these standard definition 1.33:1 full frame transfers, all in glorious black and white. Kudos for the Dolby 2.0 Mono mix, necessitating precious little work on my part with the remote; amazing for episodes creeping up on their 50th anniversary. English SDH subtitles are available and always much appreciated. There is the ever-present "Previews" option (standard issue for Paramount TV series releases), but still no extras. Then again, who needs extras when you've got a set of stories this well told?
My personal favorite is the one where Eliot Ness (Robert Stack, 1941) assumes the identity of a junkie jazz bassist, in order to trace the source of a huge opiates shipment coming into Chicago from out of state. Our boy goes whole hog, dressing for the part (Spats, Bow Tie, Straw Boater) and accepting a gig at the Purple Elephant club in New Orleans, all without so much as a single lesson on the big four string fiddle!
In related news, I just may have traced the original source of inspiration for Milli Vanilli.
Eliot, Lee, Rico, Youngfellow, Rossman. Much love. Much respect.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 800 Minutes
Release Year: 1963
MPAA Rating: Not Rated