The Grissom Gang offers no sympathy at all for the debased human beings it depicts. Rather, it denies their existence as people, treating them instead as the butts of a cruel joke.
The action takes place in Kansas City in 1931, and concerns the kidnapping of a young heiress by an unbelievably depraved gang presided over by venomous Ma Grissom (Irene Dailey) and her cretinous son (Scott Wilson). It begins in a wash of blood, opening the same vein throughout – and the key to its debasing approach is the laughter this mayhem often provokes.
Provided with a script [from a novel by James Hadley Chase] that offers absolutely no insight into the inner lives of its people, director Robert Aldrich takes matters a step further by directing his actors in performances that strain the bounds of credulity. Wilson and Kim Darby, as the kidnapped girl, make stabs at more than one dimension, but when they indulge in caricatures of feeling, as they often do, they cancel out the rest of their work. Dailey is the most persistent mugger, while Robert Lansing, in one of the few sympathetic roles, comes off best.