Professional killers of the crime syndicate headed by Albert Anastasia and Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter were a scourge in the Depression era. They later became known as Murder, Inc. The screenplay (from the book by Burton Turkus and Sid Feder) takes a leisurely approach to its subject. The pace is too slow, the suspense only occasionally gripping. Moreover, the overall production lacks zing and tension.
Amidst the tawdry backgrounds of Brooklyn’s Brownsville section, the script recounts how Lepke and the syndicate shook down the garment district, trucking business and sundry other legitimate enterprises through goon squads and hired killers. Caught in this vicious crime ring through little fault of their own are a young couple # dancer May Britt and singer Stuart Whitman.
With the possible exception of Peter Falk’s portrayal of killer Abe Reles, scarcely any of the cast’s performances could be rated as dynamic. His delineation sharply defines the brutal nature of the thug who was killed in a ‘fall’ from Brooklyn’s Half Moon Hotel while in ‘protective’ custody of the NY police.
1960: Nomination: Best Supp. Actor (Peter Falk)