Hoodlum Empire

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Designed to cash in on the televised Kefauver hearings, this was originally intended as a Frank Costello biopic. When George Raft refused to play his old buddy, the project metamorphosed into the story of Joe Gray (Russell), brought up in the rackets by his mobster uncle (Adler) until combat service in WWII teaches him the all-American values his army buddies are ready to die for. In feeble imitation of the vastly superior The Enforcer, a string of flashbacks from the Senate Committee hearings reveal how Gray tries to go straight in a rural community; how the Mob's expanding gambling activities encroach; and how he is deliberately inculpated so that, should threats fail and he decide to testify, his evidence will be compromised. Absurdly melodramatic when it isn't being pompous, sermonising or hopelessly simplistic about syndicate activities, the film is kept afloat solely by the fine cast (Adler, Russell and Trevor, in particular).

Release details

Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joseph Kane
Screenwriter: Bruce Manning, Bob Considine
Cast: Brian Donlevy
Claire Trevor
Luther Adler
John Russell
Forrest Tucker
Vera Ralston
Gene Lockhart
Grant Withers
Taylor Holmes
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