5 January 2013 | lost-in-limbo
"I can't lose."
Scott Glenn takes on the role of the infamous mob assassin Verne Miller and he simply excels in the part that fits his dry, lean persona. While the production might be low-budget, execution mildly slapdash (although it does have some imaginative flourishes) and the story's account of this larger-than-life figure is somewhat makeshift in its sensationalized details when he becomes an important underworld figure. It's the performances that drive this one home, especially Glenn. I always found him to be an under-appreciated actor and here he's no different.
In 1925, ex-lawman Verne Miller is released from prison after spending two years there for embezzlement. Soon he finds himself working along side Chicago Mobster "Scarface" Capone and becoming his number one hit- man. But things begin to change for the worse when he starts going behind Capone's back, the Feds start interfering and his health starts declining.
Gangland: "The Verne Miller Story" is a distinctively stark mobster feature (The intro is stylishly presented, like it's taken out of a Bond feature with its saucy opening song). Each scene seems to move quite quickly as in the end it's rather a simplistic take on the rise and fall of Verne Miller. Perfect it's not, but thoroughly entertaining and Glenn gives his character quite a humane quality which stands out in certain scenes when compared to the calculative nature he goes about his business. The dramatics of the narrative can be all over-the-place, sometimes even being comedic in an unintentional manner. Still there are offbeat moments (especially surrounding Thomas G. Waites' portrayal of Capone), a surreal quality (carnival setting and a certain death scene or two) and the script have its witty exchanges. Even brutal, without being excessive in the visuals (like the Kansas City Massacre, which saw Capone turn his back on Millar). Miller is portrayed as quite ladies man, and the women on show give strong performances with the likes of the seductive Barbara Stock (however I did find her narration unnecessary), Lucinda Jenny and Diane Salinger. Also showing up in accessible support are Ed O'Ross, Sonny Carl David, Andrew Robinson and Xander Berkley.