Corman's second gangster movie, contemporary in setting and made on a bigger budget than he was accustomed to after Fox picked up on the success of Machine Gun Kelly. Characteristically taut and vivid in chronicling Cochran's rise from bookie's runner to crime czar and candidate for the attentions of Murder Inc, it basically repeats the gangster movie's age-old story. What lifts it right out of the rut, aside from the excellent performances and Floyd Crosby's beautifully crisp camerawork, is the perfectly judged ambivalence that attends Cochran's ruthless drive for the top. A slum kid ready and willing to kill to avoid remaining on the receiving end of life's kicks, he nevertheless retains a streak of puritan conscience; and having seen himself disowned by his adoring mother, seen the innocent girl who loves him deliberately sacrifice her integrity in order to be with him, seen the shallowness of the loyalties he has chosen to live by, he finally comes to understand the inevitability of his own death. In its modest way, a fascinating film.
Cast and crew
Lili St Cyr