The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Gangster Film, Crime Drama  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

A simple way to describe The St. Valentine's Day Massacre is that it is an old gangster film spiced up with some modern violence. Its docudrama approach, complete with grim Paul Frees narration, gives it the feel of a newsreel brought to life, and Roger Corman's slick direction gives it that shot-on-the-backlot look that conjures up memories of The Roaring Twenties and The Public Enemy. However, the film amps up the casual brutality common to these films (the penthouse brawl between George Segal and a nagging girlfriend goes much further than a vintage Warner Bros. gangster outing would) and the event alluded to in the title is handled in a memorably grisly and brutal fashion. Thankfully, this "best of both worlds" approach works well and makes The St. Valentine's Day Massacre a rousing crime film. The script delivers a dizzying array of double-crosses and action set pieces, and Corman's direction gives it the snappy pace it needs. Best of all, it's got a fantastic cast that dives into the material with gusto: George Segal is gleefully nasty as a tough-guy enforcer Peter Gusenberg and Jason Robards gives a bombastic, scenery-devouring turn as Al Capone. It all adds up to fast, brutal fun that is well worth a look for fans of old-school crime films.