Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Gangsters

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

WELL, I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! I know I sure did. Maybe even a bit too much of one, but WHO CARES! IT'S THURSDAY! And it's time for another episode of everyone's favorite web movie series! This week: GANGSTERS. Those dapper men of crime who the movies have never stopped loving to glorify...

...and sometimes make fun of.

Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) Poor, underemployed musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) unintentionally witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. So they escape and go undercover the only way they know how: As female musicians in an all-girl band! Hilarity ensues as they both fall for lead singer Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe at her absolute peak) and have to escape mobster Spats Colombo (George Raft) and millionaire wannabe-playboy Osgood Fielding III (comic treasure Joe E. Brown). One of the funniest films ever made, Some Like it Hot is perfection on every level, with so many classic moments it's impossible to keep track.

Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen, 1994) Poor playwright David Shayne (John Cusack, one of Woody's best avatars) is not having any luck getting his latest play produced on Broadway. So when mobster Nick Valenti bankrolls the whole thing on the condition that his girlfriend Olive (Jennifer Tilly, genius) be cast as the ingenue, he reluctantly agrees. He then manages to get diva star Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest, GENIUS) as the lead. But then Olive's bodyguard Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) turns out to be a secret genius, constantly making suggestions for the play that actually improve it. How will this all end for David? It's a hilarious route to get there, one of Woody's most purely funny movies. Palminteri, Tilly, and Wiest all deservedly got Oscar nominations for their hilarious performances, with Wiest winning her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her inimitable turn as Helen Sinclair. "DON'T SPEAK!"

Analyze This (Harold Ramis, 1999) Poor mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro, deftly parodying himself) is having a problem: After so many years worrying about his standing in the mob and fearing for his life - and after his consiglieri gets shot right in front of him - he's started having panic attacks. So his henchman Jelly takes him to see psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal, perfectly cast), whose car Jelly hit in an accident. Shenanigans, as you can imagine, ensue. It's hard to believe that this perfect mafia parody came out only two months after the premiere of television series The Sporanos, which took a dramatic look at the same subject. But it did, and it was the perfect cultural moment for it. Crystal and DeNiro are clearly having a blast playing off each other, and the script by Ramis, Kenneth Lonergan, and Peter Tolan is clever and chock full of one-liner gems.


  1. oh my God Bullets Over Broadway is so freaking funny. My favorite is when Cusack opens the window and shouts that he is a whore because he sold himself out lol

  2. I didn't even think about the comic route, well-played.

    Some Like It Hot is just so faultless with every single performer firing on all cylinders. Not just Marilyn, Lemmon, Curtis and Brown though all are inimitable, but everyone in favorite will always remain Sweet Sue!

    I can't say quite the same for Bullets Over Broadway but with Palminteri, Tilly and especially Dianne Weist all delivering such hilarious joyous performances the cluttered background is easy to ignore.

    I haven't seen Analyse This all the way through, I always seem to catch it near the half way point but I'm sure I will someday.

    There are just SO many ways to go with this week I felt the need to find a hook to narrow it down. So, I went with one of the ultimate gangster stars-James Cagney to pull it together for me.

    The Public Enemy (1931)-Tom Powers (Cagney-in the role that made him a major star) is a small-time hood, vicious and consciousless who climbs to success on the back of Prohibition and his willingness to do whatever necessary-rob, maim, kill-to gain advantage. The film chronicles that rise, and fall, as well as his entanglement with two women Gwen (Jean Harlow, this was one of her earliest appearances, don’t judge her on it-she’s awful-look to her MGM comedies where she’s great) and Kitty (Mae Clarke) who famously receives a grapefruit in her kisser when she mouths off to Cagney. This William Wellman directed picture is one of the formative films in creating the gangster drama.

    The Roaring Twenties (1939)-Eddie Bartlett (Cagney), George Hally (Humphrey Bogart) and Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn) strike up a friendship in a foxhole during WWI. Once back in the States they go their separate ways but eventually circumstances bring them back together in the bootlegging business where they find enormous success until jealousies, rivalries and the stock market crash brings it all tumbling down. One of the last great gangster films of the 30’s with a fantastic cast including Priscilla Lane and a scene stealing Gladys George as the lovelorn songbird Panama Smith who delivers the film’s iconic last line.

    Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)-Amoral gangster Ralph Cotter (Cagney) breaks out of prison along with fellow prisoner Carleton (Neville Brand). When Carlton is injured Cotter murders him to speed his escape and jumps right back into crime blackmailing Carleton’s sister Holiday (Barbara Payton) into a relationship to conceal her part in aiding their jailbreak. Discovering graft Cotter pressures a couple of crooked cops (Barton MacLane and Ward Bond) and an equally corrupt lawyer (Luther Adler) into a scheme to bilk heiress Margaret Dobson (Helena Carter) out of a fortune. Things do not go as planned. This was the highpoint of leading lady Barbara Payton’s career. A beautiful if somewhat hard looking blonde at this time she was considered a rising star but after a scandal plagued and notorious career she fell as far as it’s possible to go ending up a drug addicted skid row hooker (once being mistaken for a pile of garbage after being left next to a dumpster following a beating) before her death from organ failure at 39.

  3. I love Some Like It Hot, fantastic movie. I haven't seen your other two picks though. (I

  4. We match! Analyze This is very funny and I love that scene about the Mobster never hearing the word no. I had chosen Some Like It Hot before so i couldn't pick it but I love it especially jack lemmon and Joe E Brown. I haven't seen Bullets but want to one day.