CANNES–“Hit the Dutchman” should make a quick killing in easy markets and see plenty of action beyond the theatrical grave. Fast-moving, splendidly trashy mobster yarn reps a strong behind-the-lens comeback by 21st Century topper Menahem Golan, who dishes up the genre goods with grindhouse glee.
Pic is the top-ruble half of two back-to-backers lensed in Russia, with similar casts and crews and overlapping plots.
“Dutchman,” with bigger production values, stronger violence, sex and language, and a larger story reach will need to give its sibling “Mad Dog Coll” a head start if it’s not to swallow the latter up theatrically.
“Dutchman” was first touted by Golan at Cannes back in 1974 under his then AmeriEuro banner, with George Segal planned as the Prohibition hood.
Eighteen years later Bruce Nozick toplines as Arthur J. Fleggenheimer, a cocky 24-year-old Jewish con who’s freed from West Hampton pen and straightaway slips off the straight and narrow.
After literally biting the nose off Vincent Coll (Christopher Bradley), he’s introed to Legs Diamond (Will Kempe) by best friend Joey (Eddie Bowz) and soon starts sniffing around Legs’ warbler g.f. Frances Ireland (Jennifer Miller). He also adopts the name Dutch Schultz.
Joey converts to Judaism to marry Dutch’s baby sister (Jennifer Pusheck) and the pair quit Legs’ organization. After being ditched by Frances and seeing Joey shot, Dutch sets out after Legs and his territory.
Rest of the pic focuses on his growing arrogance and eventual death in late 1935, with ex-West Hampton governor Thomas E. Dewey (Jack Conley) his tireless nemesis.
Unlike “Mad Dog Coll,” the movie isn’t constrained by endless interiors and night scenes. Look is considerably bigger budget (though not enough to forge a convincing New York) and the wealth of characters and incident easily fill up the two-hour running time. Cutting, using the EditDroid system, is zippy, and the large cast play the dime-novel script at full tilt.
Nozick, a bundle of energy in “Mad Dog Coll,” grabs the same role here like a dog with a bone, butting heads with all and sundry.
Playing is strong down the line, with Sally Kirkland lightening the tone with some funny Jewish mother schtick and Leonard Donato making a strong play as Lucky Luciano, Dutch’s eventual downfall. Golan himself cameos as mobster Hymie Weinstock.
Pic’s strong Jewish flavor is underlined by Terry Plumeri’s churning score. Period detail is B-picture authentic.