Cast & Crew
Incorrigible criminal Vincent Lubeck comes up for parole after serving five years for bank robbery in the state penitentiary. Although the warden believes that Vincent is an unrepentant "hoodlum," Vincent's naive and loyal mother defends her son when the Parole Board convenes to review his case. Vincent is released and returns home with his mother. While Vincent was in jail, his brother Johnny started Lubeck's Service gas station and bought a home for the family, using the insurance money from their father's death. Mrs. Lubeck is proud of the new home, which she boasts is a great improvement over the shack near the city dump in which the boys grew up. Refusing to compliment his brother's hard work, Vincent bitterly remarks that "dough is the only thing that will cover up the stink of the city dump." As part of his parole requirements, Vincent must work at the station, which Johnny has agreed to as a favor to his mother. Vincent resents the job, but Johnny's sweet girl friend Rosa tries to mend the family problems by asking Johnny to give Vincent a chance. In the days that follow, Vincent performs poorly and lacks the initiative to become a mechanic. He wants easy money and when Eileen, a cosmopolitan secretary who works at the bank across the street, brings her luxurious car in for repairs, Vincent begins a flirtation to acquire information about the bank's activities. Soon after, Lieut. Burdick, who was responsible for Vincent's capture five years ago, harasses Vincent at the station, causing Vincent to vent his frustration by pouring gasoline on the car of a demanding customer. At home that evening, Johnny is furious and voices his fear that Vincent's behavior will cause the business to fail. After Vincent stalks off, Rosa finds him sulking on the roof. When she suggests that he accept his brother's help, Vincent rants about cops set on jailing him and then, determined to destroy everything Johnny cares about, viciously grabs Rosa and forces her to kiss him. She frantically loosens his grip and runs downstairs. Within days, Vincent learns from Eileen the bank's schedule for federal reserve deposits and then convinces his friend, ex-convict Marty Connell, to rob the bank with him. Later at the station, Rosa, drawn to his dangerous character, offers her love to Vincent and an affair ensues. One evening months later, Vincent returns to the Lubeck home after a date with Eileen, and finds Rosa outside waiting for him. When she entreats Vincent to marry her, he cruelly tells her to return to Johnny. Distraught, Rosa climbs to roof and jumps to her death. When the autopsy report reveals that Rosa was two months pregnant, Mrs. Lubeck blames Vincent for the trouble in the home. Days later Vincent meets with his five accomplices, including Marty, Christie and Eddie, to plan the robbery. Vincent has found an unidentified dead man, and orders Christie to act as Mrs. Vanguard, the man's niece, and Eddie as her attorney. Marty and the two other men will pose as a surveyor, a passing business man and a fruit cart vendor and stand guard outside the bank to make the armored truck holdup. Christie and Eddie identify the body at the city morgue as her uncle, John Vanguard, and then go to the Brechenridge Mortuary, near Lubeck's Service, to arrange for the internment at the exact time of the robbery, planning to use the funeral procession as cover to escape the neighborhood after the robbery. On the day of the hold up, Vincent is scheduled to work the station alone but Johnny appears and, suspicious of Marty loitering outside the bank, attempts to call the police, but Vincent hits him over the head with the butt of his gun. Meanwhile outside, three bank guards are loading bags of money into the armored truck, when Vincent and his accomplices shoot and wound the guards. After they load up the money into their car, the criminals speed away to an alley and transfer to a large stately black car, quickly pulling in behind the funeral procession. Burdick immediately orders a manhunt and cordons off the neighborhood. At the scene of the crime, Burdick learns that a funeral procession from Brechenridge Mortuary has driven out of the neighborhood. Noticing the proximity of the mortuary, he questions its director and finds several clues that point to the crime. Meanwhile, after the criminals are safely outside the neighborhood, an argument ensues between Vincent and his accomplices over how to divide the proceeds. The accomplices decide to overpower Vincent, take the money and flee. Over the next few days, all Vincent's accomplices are either killed or captured and Vincent, now desperate, returns to the scene of the crime. When Burdick and another officer stop to investigate suspicious movement at the station, Vincent steals their car and drives to the family home. His mother, on her deathbed, sickened by disappointment in her son, laments that he should have repented long ago and dies. Johnny suddenly appears from behind a door, and after forcing Vincent into a car, drives him at gunpoint to the city dump to kill him. Once they arrive, Johnny loses heart and Vincent escapes. However, Burdick is waiting in the shadows, and shoots and kills Vincent as he scrambles over the piles of garbage.
John De Simone
O. Z. Whitehead
The Hoodlum (1951)
The Hoodlum (1951) was made at a point in Tierney's career when he had already burned his bridges at RKO (where he had been a contract player) and was now freelancing for other studios. Unfortunately, most of what he was offered were low-budget crime dramas and westerns and The Hoodlum was clearly a step down in quality from such previous efforts as the Richard Fleischer helmed crime drama, Bodyguard (1948). Directed by Max Nosseck, who worked with Tierney in Dillinger, The Hoodlum is a Poverty Row programmer that barely runs an hour in length (the running time is 61 minutes) but was clearly designed as a showcase for Tierney who is in almost every scene. As such, it is highly recommended to his fans and is also interesting for featuring Edward Tierney, Lawrence's younger brother, in his first prominent role as the main character's law-abiding brother.
Serving as bookends for the beginning and ending of The Hoodlum, the movie opens with a scene of career criminal Vincent Lubeck (Lawrence Tierney) being driven to the city dump by his vengeful brother Johnny (Edward Tierney) and in between we are treated to the grim case history of Vincent, who becomes increasingly hardened and dangerous after each arrest and imprisonment with no possibility of ever changing. His mother (Lisa Golm) doesn't see that and successfully appeals to the prison board to get him paroled so he can rebuild his life, working with his brother at the family gas station. As soon as Vincent is out, he returns to his old ways and is soon romancing Eileen (Marjorie Riordan), a bank employee who is too free with her information about the weekly schedule of the armored van pickups. The closest we get to any explanation of Vincent's deep-seated, amoral behavior is his own bitter memory of growing up next to the city dump which becomes a metaphor for his life. The world owes this guy and he is ready to collect.
Part crime-doesn't-pay morality tale and film noir with the requisite doomed protagonist, The Hoodlum zips along on a relentless downward path as Vincent seduces and abandons his brother's girlfriend Rosa (Allene Roberts) after she becomes pregnant; he masterminds a bank robbery and then has a violent falling out with his gang of thieves. At the end, Vincent has even alienated his long-suffering mother who laments on her deathbed, "What can mommy do? Go to the electric chair for you?....All the time you were yelling about the smells from the city dump, you are the smell! You are the stink!"
The Hoodlum is no forgotten masterpiece or even a minor gem in the film noir genre but it does give you Lawrence Tierney straight up as a lethal and poisonous force of nature. He was a limited actor at best but within his narrow range, he conveyed (in his best roles) such hatred, intimidation and barely contained homicidal fury that he easily dominated every scene he was in and was certainly as formidable as Cagney, Bogart and Robinson at their most ferocious. Novelist/screenwriter Barry Gifford (Wild at Heart, Lost Highway) wrote possibly the most concise description of Tierney's fascinating appeal in his essay on the film The Devil Thumbs a Ride (included in the book The Devil Thumbs a Ride & Other Unforgettable Films) and written while Tierney was still alive: "He's in his sixties now, fat, and completely bald. His gigantic, gleaming skull is absolutely square. In "Hill Street" [a TV series episode] he played an old police sergeant and he didn't have many lines, but that mean look was still in his eyes; that bad-to-the-bone, never-give-in visage. There is no daylight in that face."
Producer: Maurice Kosloff
Director: Max Nosseck
Screenplay: Sam Neuman, Nat Tanchuck (screenplay and story)
Cinematography: Clark Ramsey
Art Direction: Fred Preble
Music: Darrell Calker
Film Editing: Jack Killifer
Cast: Lawrence Tierney (Vincent Lubeck), Allene Roberts (Rosa), Marjorie Riordan (Eileen), Lisa Golm (Mrs. Lubeck), Edward Tierney (Johnny Lubeck), Stuart Randall (Police Lt. Burdick), Ann Zika (Christie Lang), John De Simone (Marty Connell), Tom Hubbard (Police Sgt. Schmidt), Eddie Foster (Mickey Sessions).
by Jeff Stafford
Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir! by Arthur Lyons (Da Capo Press)
The Devil Thumbs a Ride & Other Unforgettable Films by Barry Gifford (Grove Press)
The Hoodlum (1951)
The Hoodlum - Lawrence Tierney is THE HOODLUM
The Wade Williams Collection presents a rather beat-up copy of The Hoodlum, an inferior crime melodrama distributed by United Artists in its first year of reorganization. More a continuation of the Eagle-Lion label than the Chaplin-Fairbanks-Griffith tradition, UA in 1951 was a home for all manner of independent films. Some were artistic, and a lot weren't.
Synopsis: Against the strenuous objections of the prison authorities small-time hood Vincent Lubeck (Lawrence Tierney) is paroled after serving half of a ten-year armed robbery sentence. Bitter and maladjusted, he rejects the kindness of his mother (Lisa Golm) and grudgingly pumps gas for his brother Johnny (Edward Tierney). Vincent is soon seducing his brother's girlfriend Rosa (Allene Roberts) while planning a major armored car holdup. As part of his scheme he also romances Eileen (Marjorie Riordan). She works at the bank across the street, and knows of some large cash shipments coming up.
The Hoodlum begins intriguingly with a sweating Vincent Lubeck being taken for a ride in the dead of night to the city dump. It then flashes back to retrace a gangster plotline already twenty years out of date. Ma Lubeck has two boys, one an honest garage owner and the other a vicious criminal. Ma's special pleading wins Vincent an early release from jail but the hardened thug has no intention of going straight.
Sam Neuman and Nat Tanchuck's simplistic screenplay leans heavy on the proposition that all prison inmates should remain locked up for the protection of society. Selfish and violent, Vincent boasts that he's learned a lot in prison and is ready to go for a big score. He flies off the handle when anybody tries to give him advice. He's just an angry guy, as seen in an unintentionally silly scene where he loses his cool over some innocent guff from a dissatisfied customer. "What's in it for me?" is his basic motto.
Director Max Nosseck had helmed Tierney's breakthrough picture Dillinger but returned to poverty row productions after only a few bigger studio assignments. His clumsy direction keeps The Hoodlum at a comic-book level. We have to believe that Lawrence Tierney directed himself - his hammy theatrics at the tearful ending will give some of his ardent fans second thoughts. The other actors are left to their own devices. "Helpless old lady" specialist Lisa Golm (So Ends Our Night, A Place in the Sun) overacts ridiculously as the suffering mother. Billed as a new "discovery," Edward Tierney has almost nothing to do. He was the third Tierney brother to try his luck as an actor. The second was Scott Brady, who ended up with the most satisfying career.
Although cameraman Clark Ramsey's lighting is consistently good, the movie looks cheap. Audiences in 1951 must have laughed derisively at the scratchy 1930s-vintage stock shots of police vehicles and gangster action. The big robbery set piece is ineptly staged - it looks as if a dozen people are shot dead but we lose track amid the confusing coverage.
(spoilers) A potentially interesting romantic angle is woefully undeveloped. Vincent uses bank employee Eileen in his robbery scheme but she has already used her charms to tap her boss for expensive luxuries and is too slick to be taken in by his games. We never find out the full extent of Eileen's conniving. Given slightly more time is a subplot in which Vincent seduces his brother's sensitive girlfriend Rose, who becomes pregnant and suicidal. From the standpoint of the Production Code, it's odd that the makers of The Hoodlum would billboard out-of-wedlock pregnancy and suicide as key plot points, after being so careful to maintain a conservative take on law and order. One can almost see where Southern parishes would have made their censor cuts.
Image and Corinth's DVD of The Hoodlum is from the Wade Williams Collection; he provides some awkward package copy. The splicy print is regularly interrupted with breaks that lop off a word or two and occasionally create glaring jump cuts that bounce actors around the frame. We're told (through the IMDB) that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences restored the film in 1999 but the copy on this disc is mediocre. There are no extras.
For more information about The Hoodlum, visit Image Entertainment.
by Glenn Erickson
The Hoodlum - Lawrence Tierney is THE HOODLUM
TCM Remembers - Lawrence Tierney
A SCREEN TOUGH GUY WHO WAS MEANER THAN A JUNKYARD DOG
Lawrence Tierney, one of the screen's toughest tough guys, died February 26th at the age of 82. He first startled audiences with his impassioned work in the 1940s but Tierney's rowdy off-screen life eventually pushed him out of the limelight. Though he kept working in small parts, Tierney found a new generation of fans with a few memorable roles in the 80s and 90s.
Tierney was born March 15, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in New York and was a track star in school before becoming interested in acting. (His two brothers also became actors though they changed their names to Scott Brady and Ed Tracy.) He went through the usual period of stage appearances before getting bit parts in little-remembered films. His first credited role was in Sing Your Worries Away (1942) but Tierney quickly made his mark playing the title role in Dillinger (1945). A string of memorable roles followed in films like San Quentin (1946), The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947), Born to Kill (1947) and the Oscar-winning circus drama from director Cecil B. DeMille, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) in which Tierney played the villain responsible for the epic train wreck toward the film's conclusion. However, Tierney had a knack for real-life trouble and was arrested several times for disorderly conduct and drunken driving. By the end of the 50s he only found sporadic acting work, sometimes not working for several years between films. During this period his best-known work was in Custer of the West (1967) and Andy Warhol's Bad (1977).
Slowly in the 1980s, Tierney landed small but frequently noticable parts in Hollywood films such as Prizzi's Honor (1985) and The Naked Gun (1988). He appeared on TV shows like Hill Street Blues, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Seinfeld (as Elaine's father). In 1992 that changed when Quentin Tarrantino cast Tierney as the crime boss in Reservoir Dogs, an unforgettable part that gave him new fans. While the subsequent roles or films didn't get any bigger, Tierney was finally a recognized name. One of his oddest roles was the half-hour Red (1993) based on the infamous mid-70s Tube Bar tapes where a real-life bar owner responds with startlingly over-the-top remarks to prank phone calls. (If that sounds familiar it's because The Simpsons based Moe's responses to prank calls on these tapes. Tierney provided a voice in the 1995 Simpsons episode "Marge Be Not Proud.") Tierney's last film appearance was in Armageddon (1998)!
By Lang Thompson
CHUCK JONES, 1912 - 2002
Animator Chuck Jones died February 22nd at the age of 89. Jones may not have boasted quite the name recognition of Howard Hawks or John Ford but he was unquestionably one of the greatest American directors. His goals might have been primarily to entertain, which he did so wonderfully that his 50 and 60 year old cartoons seem fresher than most anything produced in the 21st century. But Jones displayed a sense of movement, timing and character barely equalled elsewhere. Literary critics have a saying that while there are no perfect novels there are certainly flawless short stories. Several of Jones' cartoons reach a perfection that Hawks and Ford could only have dreamed about.
Jones was born September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Washington but grew up in Hollywood. As a child he would watch films by Charlie Chaplin and others being made in the streets, absorbing the process and supposedly even appearing as an extra in Mack Sennett shorts. After graduating from L.A.'s Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts), Jones started selling pencil drawings on street corners. He soon landed a job in 1932 with ground-breaking animator Ub Iwerks as a cel washer (somebody who removes ink from the expensive celluloid frames so they could be reused). The following year Jones began to work for Leon Schlesinger Productions which was sold to Warner Brothers. There he directed his first film, The Night Watchman in 1938.
Jones would stay at Warners for almost 25 years until it closed the animation division. Here is where Jones did some of his most-beloved work, putting Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner, Marvin Martian and numerous others through many of their most memorable exploits. Who can forget Bugs and Daffy's hilariously convoluted arguments about hunting season in Rabbit Seasoning (1952) and Duck Rabbit Duck (1953)? Or the Coyote's tantalized, endless pursuit of the Road Runner? What's Opera Doc? (1957) sending Elmer and Bugs to Bayreuth? A cheerfully singing and dancing frog that, alas, only performs for one frustrated man? Daffy tormented by the very elements of the cartoon medium in Duck Amuck (1953)? That's only a fraction of what Jones created while at the Warners animation studio, affectionately known as Termite Terrace. This building on the Warners lot boasted an array of individualist talents that Jones, like Duke Ellington, could pull into a whole. There was voice artist Mel Blanc's impeccable timing, writer Michael Maltese's absurdist love affair with language, music director Carl Stalling's collaged scores and perhaps best of all a studio that knew enough to just leave the gang alone so long as the cartoons kept coming.
After Warners shuttered its animation division in 1962, Jones moved to MGM where he worked on several Tom & Jerry cartoons, his inimitable lines always immediately apparent. In 1966 he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas from Dr. Seuss' book, one of the finest literary adaptations. A feature version of Norman Juster's classic The Phantom Tollbooth followed in 1969. Along with his daughter Linda, Jones was one of the first to see the value of original animation art and in the late 70s began a thriving business. (For more info see http://www.chuckjones.com.) Jones made cameo appearances in Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987). In 1989, he wrote a touching and funny memoir, Chuck Amuck, that's pretty much essential reading.
Jones won an Best Short Subject Cartoons Oscar for The Dot and the Line (1965), having earlier been nominated twice in 1962. His Pepe LePew film For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) and public-health cartoon So Much for So Little also won Oscars though not for Jones himself. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary Oscar "for the creation of classic cartoons and cartoon characters whose animated lives have brought joy to our real ones for more than a half century."
By Lang Thompson
GEORGE NADER, 1921 - 2002
Actor George Nader, best known for the B-movie anti-classic Robot Monster, died February 4th at the age of 80. One-time co-star Tony Curtis said, "He was one of the kindest and most generous men I've ever known. I will miss him." Nader was born in Pasadena, California on October 19, 1921 and like many other actors started performing while in school. His first film appearance was the B-Western Rustlers on Horseback (1950) and he made other appearances, often uncredited, before the immortal Robot Monster in 1953. This dust-cheap, charmingly inept film (originally in 3-D!) features Nader as the father of Earth's last surviving family, everybody else having been wiped out by a gorilla in a diving helmet. Shortly after, Nader landed major roles in RKO's Carnival Story (1954) and with Curtis in Universal's Six Bridges to Cross (1955), bringing a beefy charm that earned him numerous fans. As a result, in 1955 Nader shared a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer. He then appeared in numerous lower profile studio films before closing out the decade playing Ellery Queen in a short-lived TV series. He relocated to Europe in the sixties where he found steady work. As secret agent Jerry Cotton, he made a series of spy thrillers which earned him a cult reputation in Europe, starting with Schusse aud dem Geigenkasten (aka Operation Hurricane: Friday Noon) (1965). The eighth and final entry in the series was Dynamit in gruner Seide (aka Dynamite in Green Silk) (1968). His film career ended in the mid-70s when a car wreck damaged his eyes so that he could no longer endure a film set's bright lights. Nader began writing novels, most notably the recently reprinted Chrome (1978), an acclaimed science fiction novel with openly gay characters.
By Lang Thompson
TCM REMEMBERS HAROLD RUSSELL, 1914 - 2002
Oscar-winning actor Harold Russell died January 29th of a heart attack at age 88. As a disabled veteran whose hands had been amputated in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Russell won Best Supporting Actor but also an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." This made Russell the only person to receive two Oscars for the same role. Russell was born in Nova Scotia on January 14, 1914 but grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts. He joined the US Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor and while training paratroopers lost both hands in an accidental explosion. He then made a training film where director William Wyler saw Russell. Wyler was so impressed that he changed the character in The Best Years of Our Lives from a man with neurological damage to an amputee so that Russell could play the part. After winning the Oscar, Russell followed Wyler's advice and went to college, eventually running a public relations company and writing his autobiography. He made two more film appearances, Inside Moves (1980) and Dogtown (1997), and appeared in a few TV episodes of China Beach and Trapper John MD. Russell made waves in 1992 when he decided to sell his acting Oscar to help cover expenses of his large family. The Motion Picture Academy offered to buy the statue for $20,000 but it sold to an anonymous bidder for $60,000. About the other statute, Russell said, "I'd never sell the special one. The war was over, and this was the industry's way of saying thank you to the veterans."
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Lawrence Tierney
Brothers Vincent and Johnny Lubeck were played by actual brothers Lawrence Tierney and Edward Tierney. (Their third brother is actor Scott Brady (I)).
A new print has been made of this film which received its premiere at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences on 21 May 1999.
The final sequence of The Hoodlum, in which "Johnny Lubeck" holds his brother "Vincent Lubeck" at gunpoint while driving to the city dump, was also shown under the opening credits. An February 8, 1951 Hollywood Reporter article states that Lawrence Tierney's younger brother, Scott Brady, was originally signed for the lead role, but was involved in a lawsuit with Eagle-Lion over his contract; the outcome of the suit is unknown. According to a March 16, 1951 Hollywood Reporter article, Edward Tierney was also Lawrence Tierney's brother and, as also noted in the article, The Hoodlum marked his film debut. A March 23, 1951 Hollywood Reporter article adds Michael Whalen, Raymond Bond, William Cornell, Ray Singer, Bert Davidson and Joe Greene to the cast, however, their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.