There’s a stunning shot in the first third of the film as we go from the current strand of time to a long flashback. The camera starts next to a portrait of Edward G. Robinson (whose character is deceased and only in the 1 hour flashback- not the 20 minute opening and ending bookends set in current time) with Richard Conte’s character turning opera on the radio. The camera tracks up the stairs, traveling out almost with the music (really elegantly done). It dissolves into a flashback of that same spot in the mansion years ago and another tracking shot of Edward G Singing that same opera in the bathtub. The rest of the film is a very good drama with fine writing and acting, buts this shot that may get it into the back end of the top 10 of 1949.
Parts of the film shot on location in Little Italy in New York
There’s an influence on The Godfather for sure. New York mob family. A bunch of brothers that are very different 4 (which including Duvall is the same). Italian patriarch. Crime. Conte would play Barzini in The Godfather.
Conte is superb- the best I’ve seen him. He is intelligent and arrogant. He can give a speech.
Edward G and Susan Hayward are ok—but their performance isn’t on the level of Conte and frankly Edward G with that flimsy Italian accent gets blown off the screen a few times (Edward G as Little Caesar in 1930 has a long history of playing Italian Americans on screen—mostly successfully) when sharing it with Conte
Sharp dialogue—“This isn’t Mulberry Street and you aren’t El Duce”
Great scene with Robinson and Conte in the 2nd street baths
The scene with the run on the banks is great- hard not to think of Jimmy Stewart’s scene in It’s a Wonderful Life
Impressive shot at the funeral for Edward G where the three brothers opposing Conte are in one shot and in the reverse shot there’s Conte with the portrait of Edward G behind him
The accent of Edward G cracks me up, it is still a fine performance. This is only the 2nd Joseph Mankiewicz film I have seen along with All About Eve (1950). The writing is amazing, non stop verbal daggars throughout the film. Conte is great, I need to check out more films he’s in. The Big Combo is great and I can’t believe I did not pick upon the fact that he was in The Godfather until reading this page.
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