The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond – 1960 Boetticher
Budd Boetticher is only one year removed from his best work- 1959’s Ride Lonesome. So, you’d figure working with talented DP Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) would yield better results
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond is a solid film (otherwise it wouldn’t be here in the archives)- but it does make you wish Boetticher had stuck to the western where he was most comfortable. Lead actor, Ray Danton doesn’t help. The handsome Danton plays Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond—and he just can’t act. Luckily (or perhaps BECAUSE of Danton)- there isn’t much to Diamond as a character- he’s not exactly psychotically complex. He’s selfish, ruthless uncharismatic—but again- handsome. Warren Oates (speaking of The Wild Bunch) plays his kid brother in his first archiveable film role. Karen Steele is back providing sex appeal like she did in Ride Lonesome.
This is Warner Brothers material- reprising their successful gangster genre some 30 years before. In 1959 Al Capone with Rod Steiger was part of this movement as well (that film is superior to this).
The visual style is quiet (Ballard creates a very authentic early 1930’s black and white look and feel), no frills, but the narrative is exciting moving briskly from crime to crime
Recommend but closer to the edge of the archives than the top 10 of 1960
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