Mobsters resembles a cart-before-the-horse case of putting marketing ahead of filmmaking, as the seemingly can't-miss premise of teen-heartthrob gangsters gets lost in self-important direction, a shoddy script and muddled storytelling.

Mobsters resembles a cart-before-the-horse case of putting marketing ahead of filmmaking, as the seemingly can’t-miss premise of teen-heartthrob gangsters gets lost in self-important direction, a shoddy script and muddled storytelling.

The narrative is amazingly confused in light of its simplicity: two Italian and two Jewish kids from the ghetto team up in the 1920s and get into organized crime, gradually finding themselves caught between two dons. Story [by co-scripter Michael Mahern] is based on the real-life exploits of mob boss Lucky Luciano (Christian Slater) and confederates Meyer Lansky (Patrick Dempsey), Bugsy Siegel (Richard Grieco) and Frank Costello (Costas Mandylor).

True highlights come from its longer-toothed characters, with Anthony Quinn’s lusty portrayal of Don Masseria and F. Murray Abraham as the Yiddish-spouting no-goodnik Arnold Rothstein.

First-time director Michael Karbelnikoff occasionally betrays his roots in TV commercials, particularly with a ludicrous, gauzily shot love scene between showgirl Lara Flynn Boyle and Slater that closely resembles a perfume ad.

[For pic's UK release the handle The Evil Empire was added to posters.]

Mobsters

Production

Universal. Director Michael Karbelnikoff; Producer Steve Roth; Screenplay Michael Mahern, Nicholas Kazan; Camera Lajos Koltai; Editor Scott Smith, Joe D'Augustine; Music Michael Small; Art Director Richard Sylbert

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Christian Slater Patrick Dempsey Richard Grieco F. Murray Abraham Lara Flynn Boyle Anthony Quinn
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