A beautiful black gangster's moll flees to Harlem with a trunkload of gold after a shootout, unaware that the rest of the gang, and a few other unsavoury characters, are on her trail. A ... See full summary »
From start to finish, it's a story of friendship between four street-wise males who don't mind using violence to achieve the lives that they want. They trust no one but each other, which is vital to their success as mobsters.
The film focuses on the war of two gangs in 1930s Harlem for the control of illegal gaming - one headed by black strategic godfather Bumpy Johnson and another by white ruthless hothead Dutch Schultz. Negotiations proposed by white syndicate boss Lucky Luciano never get under way, blood flows and Johnson gets jailed. When Johnson is paroled, he gets the work of enforcer for mighty Stephanie "The Queen" St. Clair. She is also jailed for racketeering and when she leaves she makes him promise "no violence".Written by
Although Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and Stephanie St. Clair existed in real life, the movie is fictional and only loosely based on incidents in their lives during this time period. Many other characters, including Francine Hughes, Captain Foley, and Calvin, are wholly fictional. See more »
Dutch makes a joke about Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" (1936) when the film is set in 1934-5. See more »
I have one question. Why you gotta involve yourself in numbers?
I mean, what would you have me do? Shine shoes? Carry shoes down at Grand Central? I'm a colored man, and white folks ain't left me nothing out here but the underworld.
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How great this film could have been! It uses the real history of New York's Gangsters as a background and seems reasonably well researched. At times.
Personally, however, I have several gripes with this movie:
The irritatingly predictable script and much too clean-polished setting seem to come straight out of a "screenwriting-for-housewives" class.
The "messages" in the film (such as its anti-racist and pro-religious scenes) are horribly blatant. The romantic scenes and musical interludes are much too long and boring; the violent scenes too short and clean. Johnson is portrayed as a good gangster at first, which almost works out. His "internal struggle" theme doesn't work at all.
The supposedly elegant Gangster Luciano has to shlep a horrible dog around with him throughout the film. Bumpy Johnson's friend ist forced to do a horrible "funny negro singer" routine, offsetting the supposedly antiracist messages. And that Bumpy Johnson, at the end of the film, finds Gawd and turns away from the evil gangster life is a) predictable and b) idiotic.
"Hoodlum" could've been a great film. As it is, it's merely mediocre.
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