“Any guy that we hit, he asked to be hit.”
A singer (Stuart Whitman) and his wife (May Britt) find themselves terrorized by a hitman (Peter Falk) working for an infamous New York City crime syndicate.
- Depression Era
- Historical Drama
- Peter Falk Films
Based on the real-life crime syndicate dubbed “Murder, Inc.” by the press, this historical “expose” is primarily notable as a breakthrough film for Peter Falk, who completely steals the show as notorious hitman-turned-stool-pigeon Abe Reles. Whenever Falk is in the picture (which is most of the first half of the movie), the story hums along, as we watch in trepidation to see what will happen next to his unwitting victims — the perennially frightened Stuart Whitman and his foolishly outspoken wife (Britt). Unfortunately, the second half of the movie — in which police diligently work to topple the syndicate, and crime boss “Lepke” Buchalter (David J. Stewart) makes a fatal mistake — moves slowly, ultimately feeling more didactic than thrilling. Yet the film remains worth a look at least once, simply for its fine performances throughout (especially by Falk).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Peter Falk as Abe Reles
- Fine supporting performances
No, but it’s definitely worth a look simply for Falk’s standout, Oscar-nominated performance.