Review: The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond


From director Budd Boetticher in 1960 comes the story of real life gangster Legs Diamond. This film is a mix of fact and fiction of the legendary mobster. Legs was an Irish American who was born in Philadelphia. He was known to be a great dancer, hence the nick name Legs. He also had been shot numerous times over the years only to live to tell the tale. He may have also got the Legs nickname for being able to outrun assassination attempts. He was a womanizer and willing to do whatever it took to get ahead.


This film covers all the highlights talked about above about Legs. Legs is played by Ray Danton for this film. It opens with Legs and his sickly brother played by Warren Oates getting caught in a drive-by shooting. This gives Legs the idea to steal a necklace out of a jewelry store near the shooting. He quickly picks up a dance instructor played by Karen Steele to be his alibi. He takes her to a movie and excuses himself. While he is out he uses the theater’s skylight to get into the store and steal the necklace. This opening shows Legs and his brother as small time crooks who are just trying to get by.


Legs goes to jail, but convinces the dance instructor to get him out by marrying him and traveling as a dance duo. Legs soon sees Gangster Arnold Rothstein and does everything he can to get into his inner circle. From here Legs uses his cunning, toughness and brutality to get to the top of the mob world. Will he get to the top? Will somebody take him down? Will Legs ever be happy?


Legs makes for a unlikable lead character with little to no redeemable qualities. With all this said we still root for him through out the film. A decent anti-hero that most will enjoy watching.

This film rode the coattails of other true crime drama’s about gangster that became popular in the early 1960’s. The Untouchables television series may have been the catalyst for this explosion of popularity. Legs did appear as a a character on that series as well as the television series The Lawless Years. This film was also adapted for Broadway in the late 1980’s.

Film noir buffs will enjoy this film as well as Mobster history fans. It is well directed and well acted, though we have seen this basic plot line many times in pre-noir gangster films, I guess it is true that history repeats itself.



Review: The Killer is Loose


The Killer is Loose is a short but sweet film noir from 1956.  It doesn’t look to be viewed as much as other films with this amount of star power.  This stars noir legend Joseph Cotten and femme fatale great Rhonda Fleming.


This is a tension filled hour and 15 minute movie, with a simple plot that raises the bar with the great performances.

Our story starts with a very smart bank robbery, to smart.  The police force discovers clues showing it is an inside job.  This narrows down the suspect list to one Foggy Poole.  Soon a raid on Poole’s apartment is organized and Poole is not going down without a fight.  When the police break the door down and with the lights off our hero, Detective Sam Wagner played by Cotton jumps in and sees movement, he fires…and kills Poole’s wife by mistake.  Poole goes to trial and is found guilty for the bank job.  He vows revenge on Wagner by promising to taking the life of his wife, Lila, played by Fleming.  A few years go by and Poole escapes prison.  This is where the story takes off, everybody knows Poole will be coming for our hero and his wife, but will he succeed?  What will he do to get revenge on his wife’s killer?

Foggy Poole is a very creepy psychopath played amazingly by Wendell Corey.  Foggy is a killing machine with above average intelligence.  Are we seeing the roots of future serial killers like Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates?


Michael Pate and Alan Hale Jr.(The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) both play smaller parts as police officers but still stand out.  This film is directed by Budd Boetticher who is more known for his western films, but did very well in this dark crime film.

I really liked this film!  The ending was a little abrupt, and some of the characters make some decisions that don’t exactly make sense.  The story is simple but the tension builds all the way to the end.  Recommended for any Cotton and Fleming fans and if you like Wendell Corey you will love this film.