The Mob (1951)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Film Noir, Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - Sep 7, 1951 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

The Mob is not On the Waterfront, though the middle section, in which tough cop Johnny D'Amico (Broderick Crawford) infiltrates the ranks of New York's longshoremen, might make you think for a minute that you've tuned in to a rip-off of Elia Kazan's classic. Actually, The Mob was made two years earlier by Robert Parrish, an award-winning editor in his first directorial effort, and it's closer in spirit to film noir than to Kazan's almost operatic crime drama. The action and pacing in The Mob are almost dizzying, as plot elements unfold with no time wasted and amid some very colorful tough-guy dialogue; the authors even leave room for a few comic twists that don't slow the action up until the very end. The audience might feel "cheated" by the movie, as the hero and several supporting characters spend part of their time pursuing blind alleys and tripping over themselves, although most of the loose ends and even the mistakes made by the characters get tied up neatly at the end, in a manner that leads one to suspect that the authors of the film saw The Big Sleep more than once (all except for a too-cutesy ending that deflates some of the action). Neither a classic nor a bomb, The Mob is a solidly stylish film noir whose makers needed to decide precisely how good-natured it would be and decided wrongly. If not for that error, it could have recalled George Sherman's quietly brilliant The Sleeping City or even anticipated Fritz Lang's The Big Heat, instead of being merely diverting and entertaining. The performances, from Broderick Crawford and Richard Kiley on down, are all very good, and the film is worth seeing on that basis, even with its flaws in plot and mood. Best line (among many): "I'm going underground -- like moles and Communists."