HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Relic
Nobody
Now, At Last!
Tales from the Hood
Radio Parade of 1935
Dead
Death at Broadcasting House
Huracan
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Tailgate
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Topsy-Turvy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Two/One
Cognition
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
My Zoe
Young Playthings
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Buddies
Threshold
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Ravage
   
 
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
   
 
  Lepke Kosher Nostra
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, BiopicBuy from Amazon
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 2420 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
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: