5 July 2013 | dougdoepke
As the title states, the film follows the rise and fall of the 1920's narcissistic gangster, Legs Diamond.
Warner Bros. certainly knew how to make gangster movies—Little Caesar (1930), Public Enemy (1931), High Sierra (1941)-- but this entry is a long way from these classics. It's a decent enough crime drama, but lacks the grit and menace of the classics. As a result, the story unfolds in entertaining but unmemorable fashion. Danton tries hard, snarling when he needs to, yet he may be a little too sleekly handsome to be convincing. After all, Cagney, Bogart, etc. were hardly matinée idols, and in a way that didn't clash with their expressions of toughness. Neither, however, is the movie helped by casting the faintly comical character Jesse White (Butch) as Legs' chief rival.
Too bad the movie doesn't make better use of Warren Oates who's kind of shoved aside as Legs' sickly brother. He would have made an excellent toughie as his career later showed. Also, it's worth noting the film was directed by western ace Buddy Boetticher, who certainly knew how to drive action and suspense in his Ranown cycle of westerns. Here, however, he doesn't appear particularly engaged.
For some reason the late 50's and early 60's were fascinated with real life gangster stories— Al Capone (1956), The Untouchables (1959-1963), Murder Inc. (1960), et. al. This 100- minutes is one of that cycle. But oh well, no matter what the movie's shortcomings, at least the girls provide plenty of eye candy.