Murder, Inc. Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg

This is the fictionalised account of real life mobsters Murder, Inc. Throughout the ’30s, as organised crime became more "organised,” newer, more efficient methods of eliminating opposition came into practice. Or, as Crime Boss Lepke (David J. Stewart) points out, "We run the family more like a business now. There’s no more fighting in the streets.” What that actually meant was hiring hitmen like the members of Murder, Inc. to do all the dirty work. Working out of a candy store in Brooklyn, they travelled (sometimes across country) to fulfil their contracts and were often — as the voiceover attests — back home before the body was identified. Since the assassin had little or no connection to the victim, these murders were difficult to solve. Murder, Inc. is based on a book by Burton Turkus, the lawman who brought them down. This film is a curious mix of melodrama and docudrama. It comes as no surprise that Murder, Inc. is a moralistic tale — the cops are gritty and determined to rid America’s streets of these dangerous criminals, while the mobsters are violent, double-crossing killers. Reyes (Peter Falk in his screen debut) broods and swaggers across screen; Joey (Stuart Whitman) sweats, worries and struggles to stay clear of these old friends. Midway through the film, however, there is suddenly a voiceover that tells the story of the real Murder, Inc. using crime scene photos and newsreels. Although this should be a jarring effect, it actually works well with the rest of the movie. Omnipotent voiceovers were commonly used in crime B-movie and it has a titillating effect to see real examples of their work. Directors Burt Balaban (uncle of Bob) and Stuart Rosenberg (who later made Cool Hand Luke) succeed in merging these styles. This is a formulaic B-film that stands above the rest with the story of real gangsters and naming names. (Fox)