Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, The (1960)

Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, The (1960)

“You tell them the bullet hasn’t been made that can kill me.”

With help from his sickly brother Eddie (Warren Oates), petty thief Jack “Legs” Diamond (Ray Danton) rises in the ranks of Prohibition-era gangsterhood to become a bodyguard for Arnold Rothstein (Robert Lowery), and marries his loyal girlfriend (Karen Steele) to prevent her from testifying against him in court. Soon Legs is showing the true colors of his ruthless nature, stopping at nothing to gain dominance and believing he’s invincible.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Budd Boetticher Films
  • Dyan Cannon Films
  • Gangsters
  • Warren Oates Films

After making a string of westerns with Randolph Scott in the late 1950s, Budd Boetticher agreed to make this noir-ish tale of infamous gangster “Legs” Diamond, so-called either because of his dancing skills or because of how quickly he could outrun the law. Unfortunately, there’s little to authentically interest us in this loathsome fellow, who was notorious for being unliked by everyone around him:

Steele has a thankless role as the woman he manages to keep by his side:

… while Elaine Stewart is allowed a bit more agency as a moll seduced by Legs:

… and Oates is sympathetic in a too-small role as Legs’s brother:

Watch for Dyan Cannon in a tiny spot as bubble-headed “Dixie”:

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Lucien Ballard’s cinematography

Must See?
No; you can skip this one. Listed as a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, The (1960)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    Boetticher’s direction makes it smooth and Ballard makes it look good overall but this is routine gangster stuff.

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