HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Lepke Kosher NostraBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Tony Curtis, Anjanette Comer, Michael Callan, Warren Berlinger, Gianni Russo, Vic Tayback, Mary Charlotte Wilcox, Milton Berle, Jack Ackerman, Louis Guss, Vaughn Meader, Lillian Adams, Albert Cole, Zitto Kazann, Johnny Silver
Genre: Thriller, Biopic
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Among the lesser known gangster films from the Seventies, this true-crime biopic recounts the rise and fall of Jewish-American mobster Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter (Tony Curtis), one of the premier racketeers of the Thirties. After multiple stints in juvenile prison Lepke rejoins society more driven than ever to become a major player on the New York crime scene. Working as an enforcer for mob kingpin Little Augie (Jack Ackerman), Lepke impresses a young Lucky Luciano (Vic Tayback) with his street smarts and ruthlessness (e.g. flinging an old man off a tall building for refusing to pay protection money). In rapid succession he guns down his boss, bumps off witnesses, hires childhood pal Robert Kane (Michael Callan) as his attorney and forms organized crime syndicate Murder Incorporated along with Luciano and shifty rival Albert Anastasia (Gianni Russo), all the while concealing his criminal activities from his angelic sweetheart Bernice (Anjanette Comer) until his inevitable downfall.

Tony Curtis fans rank this among his most underrated performances. Though he is good here sadly it was while making Lepke he developed the cocaine addiction that sent his career on a downward spiral. He cleaned up in time to savour his autumn years as a bonafide Hollywood legend yet never really got the third act comeback he deserved unless you count a cameo on an episode of CSI directed by Quentin Tarantino. One imagines Menahem Golan, at the time still a relatively respected filmmaker rather than the trash film force of nature he became at Cannon Films, saw Lepke as his Godfather (1972) much as he saw The Apple (1980) as his Tommy (1975). He certainly invests the film with an approximation of the epic sweep Francis Ford Coppola brought to his seminal gangster epic. Sumptuous photography by Andrew Davis, future director of Under Siege (1992) and The Fugitive (1993), soaks up the atmosphere of the period while the Jewish-American milieu and sepia-toned intro detailing Lepke's juvenile exploits prefigure elements Sergio Leone elaborated upon in Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Yet whereas Coppola viewed the Thirties through the prism of cynical Seventies social realism, Golan appears to be drawing on faulty memories of James Cagney in old Warner Brothers movies.

Painted in broad strokes, Lepke has a second hand, oddly cartoonish quality lacking the authenticity of the great crime pictures despite impeccable production design. Golan, an exploitation filmmaker at heart, crams in all the lurid sex and violence one would expect but reduces a decade's worth of true-crime headlines to a near-incoherent cocaine blur, often relying on breakneck narration from none other than radio columnist Walter Winchell (Vaughn Meader) to paper over the cracks. To the credit of screenwriters Tamar Simon Hoffs, who went on to write musical drama Stony Island (1978) then produced and directed The Allnighters (1987), a teen comedy starring her famous daughter, The Bangles' sexpot singer and guitarist Susanna Hoffs, and Wesley Lau (an actor scripting his only feature film) the film does delve into underworld politics, specifically strained relations between Lepke, Luciano and Anastasia, as well as the blurred morality underlining Lepke's friendship with Robert Kane who goes from representing a mobster to working with the FBI. However, both Curtis and Golan play several sequences for cracked comedy, notably a long, dull section where Lepke grapples with his orthodox Jewish in-laws including comedy icon Milton Berle delivering a solid, even affecting performance as Bernice's father.

In detailing Lepke's attempts to keep his murderous mob activities separate from his genteel domestic life the film tries to have things both ways drawing him as both ruthless murderer and caring family man without really dissecting that contradiction. Lively sequences like an ambush at a movie theatre where Lepke and his men trade gunfire with mob rivals while a gangster movie plays on screen and a slow-motion shoot-out at a fairground show Golan was a more skilled director than his detractors might believe. Yet the deaths are anonymous and meaningless and throughout his climactic attempts to evade capture and bump off his own men before they testify against him, Lepke only emerges as unfathomable and odious as he probably was in real life.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1915 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: