Mafia-themed story pits Kirk Douglas, as a middle-aged New Jersey syndicate chief, against Alex Cord, his ambitious younger brother not as attuned to the curious, but rigidly-structured old underworld code.
Martin Ritt’s topnotch direction of an excellent cast maximizes the tragedy inherent in original screenplay.
Goading Douglas to progress are syndicate partners Luther Adler, Murray Hamilton, Val Avery and Alan Hewitt, repping in dialog and acting the commingling of Irish gangsters and Jewish gangsters with Sicilian- Italian gangsters.
Cord is excellent as the product of an environment which has smoothed out not only the rough edges of immigrant assimilation into the US, but also the surface emotions, noble and ignoble, which marked earlier generations. Urbane, cold, ambitious, unfeeling – Cord’s character is chilling.
Since a prolog telegraphs some tragic climax, there is not much suspense in the usual sense of the word.