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  • The Garment Jungle is directed by Robert Aldrich and Vincent Sherman. The screenplay is adapted by Harry Kleiner from "Gangsters in the Dress Business" by Lester Velie. It stars Lee J. Cobb, Kerwin Matthews, Richard Boone, Robert Loggia, Gia Scala and Valerie French. Music is by Leith Stevens and cinematography by Joseph Biroc.

    Alan Mitchell (Matthews) returns from the War to help his father Walter (Cobb) run the family fashion designer factory. Unfortunately he finds a business being protected by local hoodlum Artie Ravidge (Boone), who has the backing of Walter, and who is defiant in not letting the Union into the company. Things are about to turn very ugly and Alan is right in the middle of it.

    Robert Aldrich is uncredited in a lot of sources, but the film was 98% his work. Cobb had a sulk about where his character was going, it all came to a head and Columbia head Harry Cohn, not needing much of an excuse to fire Aldrich (who was sick as well), brought in Sherman to finish the film. Or at least that's the party line story...

    Aldrich's mark is all over the film, the harsher edges involving racketeers and violence are unmistakably his. The characterisations are pungent with varying degrees of menace, betrayal, cowardice and stoicism, with morals and ethics brought into sharp focus. Much of the pic is filmed indoors, which is a shame because when Biroc gets to photograph outside in the New York locales, we can see that we could have had a visual film noir treat. Instead we get a very good pro- Union drama with noir tints, though the softening of a key character, which Aldrich didn't aspire to, leaves you wondering just how much more spicy things could have been. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A son (Kerwin Matthews) wants to join his father in the garment business. What the son doesn't know is that the father (Lee J. Cobb) is in deep with the mob--and the mob isn't about to let a union infiltrate the company. When the son sees mobsters beating up union organizers, he's appalled and can't believe that his father would condone this. But, Cobb seems unconcerned and lets his mob friend (Richard Boone) do whatever he wants. Later in the film, you learn why Boone is given so much freedom. But, the more the union and the son push, the harder Boone and his goons push back--and soon people start to die.

    As one reviewer pointed out, Cobb's performance was amazingly low-key--as Cobb very often played bigger than life characters. Matthews was also good as the earnest son--as was Boone. But the reason I give this film only a five is that some characters (such as the wife of the slain union organizer) seem to have no reason to be in the film and there are also a few plot lines that just aren't developed well. For example, late in the film, Cobb decides to become honest and go to the police. First, why would he do this? He's been working with these hoods for years. Second, if he would betray his murderous friends, do you think he would tell these mobsters FIRST?!?! Any sane person would act friendly towards them and then hand over the incriminating evidence to the district attorney. You would NOT tell known murderers that they don't scare you and you're going to break with them!!! Talk about bad script writing--and this is why a generally interesting and well-acted film still only gets a five.
  • In 1956, in broad daylight in midtown Manhattan, labor columnist Victor Riesel, who had written an expose of corruption in a Long Island union, was blinded by a bottle of acid flung into his face. This was the brutal New York battleground in which the aptly named The Garment Jungle took place the following year, a tough and absorbing drama about the fight to unionize the rag trade.

    Lee J. Cobb runs a women's-dresses firm; his ardently pro-labor partner, in the opening moments of the film, plummets to his death down a freight elevator shaft. It was no accident. Proud entrepreneur Cobb, though shaken, persists in his campaign to keep unions out of his shop by paying protection to a ruthless mobster (Richard Boone). Cobb's son (Kerwin Matthews) returns from a stay in Europe and, sympathizing with the piece-work jobbers, starts poking his nose into his father's business arrangements. He befriends a union organizer (Robert Loggia) who meets with a knife in an alley. Ultimately even Cobb comes to realize he's been dancing with the devil and tries to break off his alliance with Boone, who in turn unleashes his standard retaliation. But Matthews discovers the location of ledgers recording the history pay-offs....

    Vincent Sherman, a veteran of both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, directed, with some measure of assistance from Robert Aldrich. But here no divas reign; both Gia Scala and Valerie French take subsidiary roles, if not small ones. Hard guys dominate the movie, as they did in On The Waterfront, another look at New York City's labor relations (while nowhere near as mythic as that epic, The Garment Jungle matches it in brutality and in an unapologetically leftist point of view).

    The movie boasts clarity and pace; there's even some nicely observed detail. Early scenes in the factory cleave into an upstairs/downstairs dichotomy: the jobbers sweat and toil for a pittance while the fashion models step into and out of elegant frocks (but, in malicious asides, the models grouse about being exploited as `escorts' for out-of-town buyers looking for a big night in the Big Apple).

    With the exception of the merely serviceable Matthews (whose young career stumbled after this movie and never regained its footing), the cast is notably fine. Cobb reins in his basso-profundo growl and curmudgeonly shtik, while Boone, Loggia (in his credited debut) and Joseph Wiseman (as a union stoolie) give restrained, convincing performances. Moments when the script threatens to go treacly are swiftly undercut by violence, and the movie never wavers from its plea on behalf of men and women risking their very lives to fight for a living wage. It's a stance that will strike many as hopelessly dated, in an era when Americans aspire to the status of stockholders; maybe that accounts for the obscurity of a bold and unsentimental film from late in the noir cycle that is brazen enough to make an overt political statement.
  • I'm in total agreement with the other reviewers here. This is a sharply-made film about a battle at a garment factory over unionization with terrific performances from Lee J. Cobb, a young Robert Loggia, and a menacing Richard Boone as a union buster. Kerwin Mathews gives only a passable lead performance, but then again his novice acting sort of fits his role as an outsider, which was necessary to give the audience a view of the garment industry from an outsider's perspective. Whether or not one scene or another was directed by Sherman or Aldrich makes little difference - the movie fits together fantastically, and has aged quite well. This movie would make a fine contrast to Paul Schrader's excellent 1978 expose movie "Blue Collar", which took an opposing negative view of the union.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    No need to recap the plot. Those who compare this racketeering movie with The Phenix City Story (1955) are making an apt comparison. The problem for this film, unlike Karlson's, is that The Garment Jungle has too many flaws to succeed as a minor gem. At its core, it's a good gritty film with a gutsy screenplay and a powerhouse selection of featured players. But, the end result is compromised by two key flaws.

    No matter how you cut it, Kerwin Mathews is simply not up to the challenge of his pivotal role as the conscionable son. Unlike Richard Kiley of Phenix Story who must go through similar changes, Mathew's bland demeanor remains the same even after he's committed to fighting corruption and his father. He has basically one emotionless expression for every occasion. The words are there, but crucially not the required feeling. Unfortunately, he has extended scenes with three very strong personalities, Cobb, Loggia, and Boone, and except for the camera, you might even forget he's there. It's a big emotional hole that carves a vacuum right through the picture's middle, detracting from the overall impact. In Mathew's defense, it is his first starring role, and it is a demanding part. Clearly, he's got the looks but not the skills; at the same time, he was probably wise to make a career of undemanding special- effects movies. Still and all, consider how much stronger the impact would be were the movie's ordeals reflected in Mitchell Jr.'s changed character as he goes through them.

    Second, it certainly does matter who directed the scenes. Pulling Robert Aldrich off the film was a major blunder in terms of overall quality. Like fellow noir specialists Phil Karlson and Anthony Mann, Aldrich doesn't just show us violence, he makes us feel it. Consider the brutal undercurrent running through three key scenes—the elevator crash, Tulio's murder, and the union meeting. The audience doesn't just see the violence or threats of violence, we feel them with a palpable sense of dread. I suspect this is a talent that can't be taught; instead, it comes from a sensibility deeper than mere technique. Now, contrast those scenes with the utterly pedestrian last 10 minutes—the fist-fight with Boone, the cops coming in at just the right moment. These are clichés without feeling or undercurrent, and I would bet the house that Sherman directed those very forgettable episodes. I also suspect Sherman, a "woman's" director, was brought in to soften the ending into something more conventional and play up Scala's part, and especially French's otherwise non-essential role. Nonetheless, those last 10 minutes contrast sharply with the noir sensibility that is unmistakably Aldrich's.

    At the same time, I wonder whose idea it was to have dad Mitchell's (Cobb) murder occur off-camera. To me that should be a dramatic highpoint of the story, where Mitchell's corrupt past catches up despite his good efforts at reform. Cobb could certainly have transformed such a scene into a vivid emotional climax that would have added a memorably tragic touch. However, the way it's done off-camera produces no impact at all. My guess is that the studio was leery of adding another violent scene to those already in place; after all, this was the period of the Production Code with its strictures on what could be said, what could be shown.

    None of this is to deny that Jungle remains a riveting social-conscience film with an unusually fine New York cast, a gutsy script, and some gritty street photography. But much of that overall impact, I believe, is due to the outstanding noir sensibility of Robert Aldrich. More importantly, had Columbia Studio left him alone and in charge, the movie could easily have become a classic along the lines of his Kiss Me Deadly instead of the unevenly good film it finally is.
  • This is a over looked little gem here. The cast is excellent from top to bottom, even the weak link here Kerwin Mathews is better than most of his other roles in films. Lee J. Cobb tackles his role with gusto and scores a home run as the tough hardheaded father/boss.The always excellent Richard Boone shines as the ruthless mob enforcer. Lots of Broadway stage talent on display here. Robert Loggia makes the most of his role in his film debut, Joseph Wiseman's character reminds one of his role as Charley Gennini in Detective Story. Valerie French who did as many Broadway plays as movies is effective in her minor role. The always reliable Harold J. Stone as the shop foreman (Harold grew up in Yiddish theatre and made his Broadway debut in 1939). Even the smaller roles have nice surprises. The wonderful character actor Willis Bouchey (a stable of John Ford in his films, best remembered for his president of the court-martial in Sergeant Rutledge )as a union president. Celia Lovsky (the ex wife of Peter Lorre, and character actress in over 200 TV shows, 40 films),is wasted as the Grandmother. Don't blink or you will miss Joanna Barnes (only one year away from playing the memorable WASP Gloria Upson in Auntie Mame) in her film debut. She only has two lines,but she is so close she is almost kissing the camera. And some very familiar acting thugs doing their nasty business with flair.... And last but not least we come to Gia Scala as the feisty Italian Theresa Renata (Gia was half Sicilian from her father and 1/2 Irish , who left Italy for New york City to eventually study with Stella Adler and the Actors Studio) Gia shows so much promise here. Everyone knows her for Anna in The Guns of Navarone, and she was very good in a handful of other roles in the 50s. Sadly Gia took to the bottle after her The Guns of Navarone role and her career nosedived quickly. ( Well after all she was half Irish) One only has to see how badly her looks and talent had eroded in her 3rd to last acting role in the TV show "Tarzan" with Ron Ely. Toward the end of the show,she has scenes where she is not even looking toward the camera,perhaps having to do a voice over,(unable to remember her lines) and the ending is strange ,like she did not even show up for filming and they had to patch together a ending to the show, with no Gia on the set. (Gia died of a overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills suicide in 1972 after unsuccessful attempts in 1958, when her Mother died, and 1971 ,after learning her ex husband married Barbara Anderson less than a year after their divorce ) A sad end to a very promising career. Speaking of Tarzan, that's Eve Brent as the Receptionist, the future Jane in two Gordon Scott "Tarzan" films.

    The Garment Jungle is rare film , but well worth the effort to track it down.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Something of a disappointment. Lee J. Cobb is the anti-union head of Roxton Garments in New York. His partner in the business is killed when an elevator is unleashed and plunges twenty-seven floors to the bottom of the shaft, in the scariest scene in the film.

    Cobb doesn't know it, or doesn't let himself realize it, but the man behind the killing is Richard Boone, who protects the business from union organizers.

    Then Cobb's son, Kerwin Mathews, returns from Europe determined to learn the business and join his father in running a clean shop. He's shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that Boone has been clobbering the union members and killing a few who have become irretrievably irritating.

    Robert Loggia is one of the organizers who is killed by a couple of Boone's goons, led by Wesley Addy. Loggia leaves behind a widow, Gia Scala, with whom Mathews, understandably and decorously, takes up.

    In the end, Cobb pays for his self deception, Addy and Boone get their just desserts, and Mathews winds up with the succulent Scala, after whom an opera house is named.

    There isn't a sparkle in any line of dialog. A couple of lines are stolen verbatim from "On the Waterfront" -- "pistoleros", "you'll talk yourself right into the grave." The plot is schematic and holds absolutely no surprises. Vincent Sherman's direction is pedestrian. The photography is flat an uninspired, though there are a couple of nice shots of New York streets.

    Lee J. Cobb can act. In this case, it must have been easy for him because he replays Johnny Friendly from "On the Waterfront," only this time with a soft heart. Richard Boone can act too. Joseph Wiseman, in a minor part, does a good job. Gia Scala hits her marks, says what the script demands, and does what the director tells her to. A stunning woman, her life soured early on. The director and photographer do a good job on Wesley Addy. He has white hair, a blanched face, eyes the color of a glacial lake, and he's sometimes shot through a wide-angle lens than turns his surprisingly fleshy lips into those of some kind of parasitic fish. I don't see him as a low-tier muscle man though. He and Boone should have switched roles. Harold J. Stone is his reliable self, although he's forced to be more "Italian", as Tony, than comes naturally to him. Nobody else in anything resembling a major part is more than mediocre, and some performers don't clear even that bar. Kerwin Mathews may be a nice guy in real life, but he's blandly sterile and belongs in domestic dramas on afternoon television.

    Great title, suggestive of intrigue and shadows. Some good people in the cast. A potentially explosive expose of a business nobody knows much about but which deals in megabucks.

    And it all comes out like this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "If you don't want to be nervous, do yourself a great big service. Stay away as far from Seventh Avenue".

    So sings Barbra Streisand in the 1961 Broadway musical "I Can Get It For You Wholesale". "The Garment Jungle", made four years before, is an expansion of those lyrics, and shows how scary that industry is. From the very beginning, where one of the partners of a garment making industry is brutally murdered, to the gripping ending that features a memorable roof-top chase sequence, "The Garment Jungle" is to the unions of the garment industry what "On the Waterfront" was to longshoremen. While it probably lessens the impact with the passage of time between the two films (three years can make a big difference), "The Garment Jungle" is still pertinent today because of the prevalence of major fashion houses and top models in that industry. Lee J. Cobb, a character actor I've come to respect more recently by seeing some of his less known films, gives a performance that is filled with small nuances of humanity thanks to the relationships he has with his son (Kerwin Matthews) and girlfriend (Valarie French). Gia Scala and Robert Loggia are good as union workers fighting Cobb and crime boss Richard Boone while getting Matthews on their side. This leads to conflicts between father and son, and a very brutal murder. Boone is wonderfully despicable (and grotesque), and stage and TV actor Wesley Addy (whom "Loving" viewers will recognize as kindly powerful patriarch Cabot Alden) is unforgettable from the moment you see him. How someone so seemingly civilized as Addy could end up being so deadly is a great twist. Quodos to the casting directors for their ingenuity in really putting some great people who rarely got their due in this film.

    I really liked the interaction between the models preparing for a fashion show. (One of them is Joanna Barnes of "Auntie Mame" and "The Parent Trap" fame). The script is non-stop excitement. My only complaint was that there seems to be an important element deleted from the final print of how Scala made it from her mother-in-law's house to the D.A. with evidence. This is not a great film by any means; It seems very TV anthology series in concept, expanded for theatrical release, but somehow it all comes together and is quite satisfying. Columbia's late 50's film noirs were the best; They seemed to keep the genre going a few years longer than other studios output.
  • The struggle for the worker to get a decent living wage with a few benefits has been removed from the consciousness of the proletariat since Ronald Reagan broke the ATC union in the eighties. Since then the populace has been persuaded into believing that the worker is best left to the trickle down generosity of the employer.

    This film is a throwback to that struggle and has a message packed with a powerhouse persona of greed, violence, and suppression. It utilizes realistic on location street photography to give a hard boiled and bitter verisimilitude. There are other flashes of "realism" not usually found in typical Hollywood films.

    Some very slick indoor photography and gripping performances throughout deliver this expose in a package marked "stay out of it, or its your baby's legs next". Tough stuff for the conservative, establishment, 1950's.
  • Certainly among the lesser-known 50's racket-noirs (even many inferior are more discussed and collected), this one hits hard, looks good and has the unmistakable touch of prime-era Aldrich, though it was only partially done by him. Frequent cinematography collaborator Joe Biroc puts the stamp on that ensures a vivid look at a harsh story.

    The cast is uniformly good, with Cobb leading in one of his best performances. The blending of two directors' work here unusually doesn't detract from the impact of this one. Look for it on television, or the hard-to-find, out-of-print video, whenever possible.
  • Lee J. Cobb in a further attempt to buttress his reputation after being a friendly witness at the House Un-American Activities Committee chose yet another labor story in The Garment Jungle. Cobb plays a factory owner of an unorganized shop in the garment center who has uneasy and unofficial partnership with racketeer Richard Boone. Boone provides the muscle to keep out organizers from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union from Cobb's place of business.

    After the death of Robert Ellenstein who was Cobb's partner, Cobb's son Kerwin Matthews who had not taken an interest in the business up till now is shocked that Cobb is in deep with someone like Boone. Matthews then takes up the mantle of crusader.

    Which really doesn't fit him well. I found it hard to believe that Matthews suspected nothing up to that time. Probably in real life he would just make sure he didn't know.

    Boone is his usual good self, but the outstanding performance in the film is a young Robert Loggia who is passionate and dynamic in his role as an ILGWU organizer. God bless man who some 60 years later is still going strong and who is never bad in anything he does. Also standing out are the two females in substantial roles, Gia Scala as Loggia's wife and Valerie French as a buyer who has a thing going with Cobb.

    I don't think it was an accident that Lee J. Cobb appeared in this role. The ILGWU as a union fought both Communists and racketeers both from taking over the union. The ILGWU president David Dubinsky was a veteran of those wars. He probably understood what Cobb went through in making that decision to be a friendly witness and this film I have no doubt was under ILGWU strict auspices.

    One thing that was very much in keeping with the times was Loggia's role as an organizer. The rank and file of the ILGWU was passing from a Jewish base to more Latinos, both men and women. Loggia's role as an organizer of Latino background was spot on.

    Despite some flaws and it's not in the same class as On The Waterfront, The Garment Jungle is a good film with some strong performances by a few players.
  • kidboots19 September 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Once hailed as the successor to Ingrid Bergman, Gia Scala never grasped hold of the opportunities that were given to her. A beautiful girl born in England to an aristocratic Italian family, she came to America in her teens and was immediately pounced on by Hollywood. Universal felt she was going to be a star of the future and groomed her in language instruction (her Italian accent was very heavy). Other studios were interested and for the next few years she alternated between Columbia and MGM. "The Garment Jungle" was her first for Columbia and contained her most sensitive performance. She proved she could have been a big star as she tackled the demanding role of Theresa, the fiery young wife of union leader Tulio Renato (Robert Loggia).

    Lee J. Cobb could always be relied on to give explosive performances and this film starts with a bang with a heated conversation between Walter Mitchell (Cobb) and his partner who wants to bring in the unions and rid Roxton Fashion House of Artie Ravidge's (Richard Boone) protection racket which is calling all the shots. Within minutes he is dead - victim of a faulty elevator or was he murdered? For all his tough, blustery exterior Walter just doesn't connect the stand over goons who surround him with the murders and beatings that begin to happen. That is left to his son, Alan (Kerwin Matthews) who walks right into the middle of the conflict, wants to follow his father into the garment trade but also sees what his father cannot - that by disallowing the unions into the factory, the gangsters are given free reign. The movie then follows the son as he tries to learn the truth and meets passionate union official Tulio and his beautiful wife Theresa.

    Taken from a series of explosive articles by leftist columnist Victor Riesel, I think Kerwin Matthews is up to the job, of the son who has instant sympathy with the under paid piece work machinists. By the end Walter has finally realised the damage done by turning a blind eye to the stand over men and their tactics but it is up to the women to save the day. Walter's mistress Lee Hackett (Valerie French) has kept the ledgers which show every protection payment and Theresa, on her own initiative, tries to out run the gangsters in her effort to get the books to the police station.

    One scene that will stay with me is when Alan and Teresa go into a diner and in a very tender moment, Theresa attempts to breast feed her baby then retires to another booth where she can do so in quiet. It is a beautiful scene, sensitively realised by director Vincent Sherman.

    It was while on a promotional tour of the movie that Gia learned her beloved mother had cancer - she never really recovered from the shock and her life and career were never the same.
  • wes-connors26 September 2015
    In New York City's garment district, women's dress manufacturer Lee J. Cobb (as Walter Mitchell) argues against allowing employees to join a union. His longtime business partner supports the union and is rewarded with an unfortunate accident. Garment workers who join unions are threatened with a shortened life expediency. This is why Mr. Cobb tells his handsome young son Kerwin Mathews (as Alan Mitchell), back in the US after several years overseas, to look at other employment opportunities. Formerly estranged, Mr. Mathews insists on joining the family business. Mathews soon discovers "Roxton Fashions" is tied up in deadly "protection" from mobster terrorist Richard Boone (as Artie Ravidge) and his goons...

    Writer-producer Harry Kleiner reportedly changed directors, from Robert Aldrich, to Vincent Sherman, which may be why this interesting drama doesn't live up to its potential. He does get great black-and-white photography (by Joseph Biroc) and a fine cast. Cobb starts out strong, but confusingly becomes a supporting player. In his best moments, Cobb channels his "On the Waterfront" (1954) role. His character otherwise wavers between indistinct and naive. Consequently, girlfriend Valerie French (as Lee Hackett) gets very little to do. Leading man Matthews receives lackluster introductory scenes, upstaged by Cobb and women who are stripped to their underwear. Mathews gets stronger, but seems left to his own devices...

    The real female lead is Gia Scala (as Theresa), as the wife of union organizer Robert Loggia (as Tulio Renata). While also good, she loses spontaneity. One of Mathews and Scala's most memorable scenes is a good example. On a pivotal evening, Matthews, Ms. Scala and her baby stop at a bar. She unbuttons her shirt to breast-feed the baby, but moves to another booth for privacy. After however many rehearsals and retakes, you still have to move around the booths like it's the first time. It's a fine scene, but could have been better. There are also jagged moments; a man enters a room too suddenly, for example, and a banister shakes like it's a prop. While the flaws stand out, much of "The Garment Jungle" fits nicely.

    ****** The Garment Jungle (1957-04-25) Vincent Sherman ~ Kerwin Mathews, Lee J. Cobb, Gia Scala, Richard Boone
  • Vincent Sherman was always a good director of melodramas, particularly if he had a strong leading lady. He made "The Garment Jungle" in 1957 after the original director, Robert Aldrich, was taken off the picture. You could hardly call it a problem picture but it did deal with the issue of Trade Unions and, in its way, it did find Sherman out of his comfort zone, (Aldrich was much better suited to the material). Nevertheless, it's a good example of its kind with a strong cast headed by Lee J. Cobb and featuring the likes of Robert Loggia, Richard Boone, Wesley Addy and Joseph Wiseman in supporting roles. However it's let down somewhat by its handsome, wooden lead, Kerwin Mathews, who always looked better shirtless, in baggy pants and with a scimitar in his hand. It was also lacking in a strong female lead; Gia Scala and Valerie French are as good as we get here and while both are very pretty neither was ever likely to be Oscar-bait. No "On the Waterfront" then but still worth seeing.
  • Lee J. Cobb, Kerwin Mathews, Robert Loggia, Richard Boone, Gia Scala, Valerie French, and Wesley Addy are part of "The Garment Jungle," a 1957 film directed initially by Robert Aldrich, who was fired, and finished by Vincent Sherman.

    Cobb plays Walter Mitchell, who owns a fashion house, Roxton Fashions, that sells to the trade in New York's garment district. Thanks to a partnership with mobster Artie Ravidge (Boone), he has managed to keep the union, ILGWU, out of his shop. The union has been gaining ground in the industry. One union worker, Tulio Renata (Loggia) is determined to unionize the sweat shop.

    When Walter's partner wants to unionize, he is murdered, and though it's made to look like an accident, no one is fooled.

    When Alan (Mathews), Walter's son, returns to New York after being away for several years, he's shocked by what is going on and that his father seems to be condoning violence to keep the union out.

    Some of this is quite good showing the problems that the union had breaking into the garment industry, as well as the brutality some of the unionists faced.

    Viewed today, some of the film is over the top. I found Loggia and Gia Scala, as a passionate Italian couple, too exaggerated. In fact, theirs and Cobb's performances were too theatrical. Compared to them, in fact, Kerwin Mathews seemed bland until the end of the movie. Mathews found success in costumers later on.

    Boone and the actor playing his enforcer, Wesley Addy, gave restrained performances, playing against gangster personalities. The beautiful Valerie French had a smaller role as Cobb's girlfriend, a major buyer.

    One thing that was a little out there was a funeral scene - footage from something else was used - maybe Valentino's funeral? It didn't seem plausible for the character who passed away.

    All in all, a good film, though it doesn't stand up against a film like Waterfront.
  • Terrific film in the genre of "On the Waterfront." This one involves efforts to unionize the dress industry and the violence by mobsters hired by bosses to thwart the unions from getting a hold on the workers.

    Lee J. Cobb is perfect as the role of the garment boss who has paid for years to keep the union out of his business. When his partner is murdered by gangsters when the former is willing to sign on with the union, this occurs just in time as Cobb's son, well played by Kerwin Matthews, arrives from Europe on the scene and is willing to learn the business. He soon realizes why his father has kept him out and when an organizer for the union is murdered, he becomes totally sympathetic with the union movement as well as the widow (Gia Scala) of the slain organizer.

    The picture captures the woes of garment workers and the mobsters who were hired to keep them out.

    It is to be noted that the garment industry always had a history of difficulty with labor. Many of these places were in violation of National Labor Board rules and were continuously fined for abusing workers.

    This is a picture of rare quality with solid acting performances by a terrific cast.

    The film should especially be viewed by all the anti-union activists out there.
  • I was lucky enough to see a VHS-transfer copy of this, and despite the poor quality, I can recommend this as a top-notch Crime/Mob/Racket thriller. Not exactly noir, but shares many many similar qualities - fast pace, seedy NY locations, opening voice-over etc. Think 'Phenix City Story' and you won't go far wrong - though this is actually even better than that. As usual, Lee J. Cobb is outstanding. And it seems strange to see Cobb here, in such an unashamedly 'leftish' film, after the trouble he had with HUAC earlier in the decade. There's not one mention of the 'C' word, though "anti-communism" would undoubtedly have been the cover for the Mob's anti-union activities... This is only one of very few films I can think of from Hollywood with a pro-Union message - and I doubt if it could even have been made during the height of the McCarthyite witch-hunt. Find it, watch it, enjoy it. And then join your local trade union, organise to keep the mobsters and agitators out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **SOILERS** With a steel-like grip on the New York City garment industry mobster Artie Ravidge, Richard Boone,has been running a protection racket taking in as much as $2,000.00 a month from clothes manufactures. That's to make sure that their business don't end up being burned by his hoods.

    The last thing that Ravidge wants is that the garment workers unionize thus putting him and his hoods out of business. It's when Ravidge has the president of Roxton Fashions Walter Mitchell's, Lee J. Cobb, partner and good friend Fred Kenner, (Robert Ellestein), who's in favor of unionizing the workers, killed in an elevator accident that Mitchell starts to have doubts about his relationship with him. Things get even more strained for Mitchell when his son Allan, Kerwin Mathews, shows up-after being away for some time in Europe-to help in running his garment business.

    Seeing what Ravidge has been doing in strong-arming the workers in preventing them from forming a union Allan decides to throw his lot in with firebrand union organizer Tulio Renata, Robert Loggia. It's when Tulio is later murdered by Ravidge's, with the help of a number of turncoats union members, thugs that even the wimpy Walter Mitchell decides that enough is enough in his having Ravidge, as a silent partner, run his garment business. But by then it's too late for Mitchell to turn evidence in his secret logs that he's been keeping, recoding all he shady deals he's had with Ravidge over the years, without him implicating himself!

    This is all ironed out by Ravidge himself in him having Mitchell murdered when he started shooting off his mouth in him unionizing his work force. This also had Allan together with the late Tulio's wife Theresa, Gia Scala, get their hands on Mitchel's logs and then try to get them into the hands of the city's District Attorneys office. That's if Ravidge who has everything to lose, including his freedom, allows them to do it!

    ***SPOILERS*** Even though he was killed off early in the movie Tulio Renata was undoubtedly the one person who ended up putting the Ravidge mob behind bars. The fact that Tulio put his life on the line, and ended up losing it, gave the mostly intimidated workers the push that they needed to not only organize but throw Ravidge and his boys out of the garment industry. As for Allan he soon took up the torch that Tulio dropped and, by risking his life, got the goods-his father's secret logs-that not only exposed Ravidge's murderous protection racket but had him arrested indited and finally convicted for the many crimes that he committed.
  • kosmasp30 September 2022
    No pun intended - and talks may be stretching it. There was a time when workers did not have it easy. Well there are still workplaces and countries where this is true (allegedly Qatar is one of those places). Still I doubt they can make an engaging movie like this one - or have a coherent storyline like we have here that is.

    All that aside, the movie starts off with a bang. And an interesting way to show us an elevator scene going down (no pun intended). Things happen you say? Question is how controlled they are and who controls them? There is always some speculation of course ... and the suspense the movie builds is helping. Great acting helps the whole thing of course.
  • fubared114 April 2010
    Like many of these 'expose' dramas, this one is overblown, pedantic, and makes it's point with a sledgehammer. Add to that the bland and boring (not to mention unattractive) Kerwin Matthews and you have a result that tries too hard to make it's point. Cobb is mercifully somewhat understated in what could have been another 'blowhard' role, and Boone is suitably sleazy (as are his henchmen). The only woman of any depth is actually the great Celia Lovsky (playing an Italian?) as Loggia's mother. In general a disappointing misfire. Perhaps it would have been better left in Aldrich's hands as Sherman was a 'Hollyweed product' at best.
  • This is a dark, violent and gritty look at Manhattan's infamous garment industry during the era of unionization...pickets, violence, the whole shebang. The general story is about a business right in the heart of the garment district run by two partners, one who wants to allow unions in and one who doesn't. The one who does meets with "an accident". This is a business that largely paid by piece work and the workers wanted benefits and a better live-able wage which is why they wanted to unionize.

    The remaining boss' son comes home and slowly finds out that his father has partnered with this completely violent and amoral man to keep the unions out.

    Interesting footage of some real life which is overshadowed by some of the violence. The real breakout performance was given by Gia Scala, who plays the wife of a union organizer.

    Tough but worthwhile film noir.
  • RodrigAndrisan30 October 2021
    Especially to see the two great actors who were Lee J. Cobb and Richard Boone, both were and remain two sacred monsters. Unfortunately, little known today. Lee J. Cobb was an actor of such naturalness and realism like no other, in any role he shone. And Richard Boone, in my humble opinion, is the most credible and convincing actor who has played villains. Note Wesley Addy in a killer role in the service of the character played by Richard Boone.
  • Director Sherman effectively dovetails the lives of the Haves and the Have Nots in New York's famed garment district. For its time (1957), this was a film that attracted an adult audience and delicately handled a very adult subject matter (think "On the Waterfront," but not quite as sophisticated).

    Loggia, Scala and Boone deliver memorable performances. Matthews is generally flat, and even Cobb seems uninvolved with the proceedings.

    The breast feeding scene and the expletive statement "Go to Hell!" voiced by Matthews during a bitter fist fight with Boone demonstrate that the Code was cracking; both scenes are well done and not exploitive.

    The violence is often brutal and anything but subtle.

    The all-too-few location scenes are nicely juxtaposed with the studio shots.

    The film's down side is that the factory floor and union meeting sets are much too small and do not include enough people to give the moments a sense of realism.

    Keep in mind that this film would have been taboo in Hollywood five years earlier with HUAC and the very real threat of blacklisting.

    See it for Scala, Loggia and Boone.
  • A 1957 slice of life drama involving corruption in the garment industry starring Lee J. Cobb. When Cobb's son, played by Kerwin Matthews, returns from overseas to join his dad in the business, he's shocked to find out he's partnered w/a mobster, played by perennial heavy Richard Boone, who's squeezing him for protection money to keep the ensuing union forces, led by a very young Robert Loggia, hoping to set up in Cobb's shop. Matthews engages Loggia & his wife, played by Gia Scala, hoping to bring some justice to the firm but the bad guys, one played by Wesley Addy (who worked a lot w/Sidney Lumet), eventually off Loggia for his efforts but not before an eyewitness, played by future Dr. No Joseph Wiseman, fingers the bad guys. When Cobb gets killed as well, some ledgers (w/incriminating evidence detailing his transactions w/Boone) must get to the powers to be before Boone soon cleans house once & for all. Cobb had already starred in the mother of all union/corruption yarns in 1954's Best Picture On the Waterfront which elevated the kitchen sink drama to poetry so him being here, although laudatory, feels like an also ran w/the crime elements & human melodrama sometimes clashing w/each other. Also starring character actor Adam Williams (I remember him as one of James Mason's thugs in North by Northwest) playing one of Boone's boys here.
  • Writer/producer Harry Kleiner (Bullitt '68) obviously wanted to expose the shocking criminal involvement within the Garment trade but was trying to achieve it on a budget that was lacking. Columbia at the time had several new stars under contract and wanted to give them exposure in this picture - some were definitely up to the task; Gia Scala who went on to star in 'The Guns of Navarone' in '61, Sadly, a few years later would be found dead at age 38 under suspicious circumstances. Award-winner Robert Loggia ('Big' 88), went on to grace many movies with solid performances. Both were well cast emotionally convincing performer's. Maybe the weakest link was pretty boy, Kerwin Mathews -playing Lee.J.cobb's son. He would make a handful of movies then gradually fade out. Cinematographer Joseph Biroc ('Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte' 64) supplies the moody B/W photography.

    This picture attempts to equal 'On the Waterfront' in its revelations about Unions and Protection rackets, this time within the clothing business but directors Vincent Sherman/Robert Aldrich were no match for Elia Kazan - and the budget needed to be larger. In spite of these limitations, the story is strong and well-intended and carries interest to the finale, that is, up to a pat, tacked-on ending that tries to wrap it all up in seconds. Good as a B - but could have been a fine A.

    The new Bluray disc has been taken from a clean negative and sound is good but image is a bit darkish, if a good DVD can be located might be better.