Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Hoodlum. 1951.

Loking like it was shot in a shoebox with a budget of $2.00, this gritty little B reunites the scary Lawrence Tierney with Max Nosseck who directed him in 1945’s terrific Dillinger. Clocking in at 61 minutes the story is tough, rancid and minimal. Tierney is a no good small time gangster who when the film opens is attempting to get out of jail on parole with the help of his weepy and trusting mother who throws herself at the parole board and begs for mercy for her son who she thinks is a good boy. Yeah right.  As soon as Tierney gets out he’s giving everyone problems including his good natured and straight brother (played by Tierney’s real life brother Edward) who reluctantly gives him a job in his gas station. Tierney is soon plotting a complicated bank robbery, rapes and impregnates his brother’s weepy and trusting girlfriend and is just plain nasty to everyone including the gas station customers who Tierney greets with a threatening  “What do you want.” The crummy looking sets and the backlot street setup  (which by the way I loved) suits this outsider film very well which is tight and claustrophobic. Nosseck who was born in Germany did three films with Tierney, and he deserves to be rediscovered as a true nervy, primitive and original filmmaker. The movie is also loaded with lots of low budget interesting character actors and actresses including two hot dames who take no prisoners and no crap from Tierney and the well known terrific bit player O.Z. Whitehead (with a name like this he better be good) who plays a creepy funeral home director. Unfortunately the dvd transfer looks like they held auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance” on it, which takes away from the total enjoyment of the film. This is the kind of film that Criterion should be restoring, and I’ll tell you I’ll take “The Hoodlum” over any of the processed sterile big budget blockbuster pieces of shit that Hollywood is shoving down our throats any day of the week.


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