4 July 2005 | silverscreen888
Exciting Fictionalization of Assassination of Anton Cermak; First-Rate
This is one of the major two-part efforts put forth by Quinn Martin during the first run of "The Untouchables" television program. They are all excellent pieces of solidly-scripted B/W film-making. This feature is a fictionalization of the events surrounding the assassination of Anton Cermak, powerful voting bloc organizer and mayor of Chicago during the World's Fair . Historians now believe Cermak was being targeted by Capone mobsters because of his pursuit of them and prevention of their infiltration of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair; and that Giuseppe Zangara, the murderer of Cermak, was one of theirs. Nevertheless the storyline here is equally diverting. Here Cermak is touted as an incorruptible man,whom Eliot Ness warns to be careful when he angers Capone by vowing publicly to keep the World's Fair clean of gangster subversion.The opportunity for an angry Capone to avenge himself on the Mayor comes when his trip to Miami to meet with President Franklin D, Roosevelt at a major event is announced in the papers. A murderer is recruited, a man who carries rifle parts in a golf bag; he rents a room in a hotel over looking the event site, and waits. The body of the film shows Ness and his men tracing a tip from one Jake Ryan given to try to get himself a lighter sentence after he attempts a crime. But knowing Capone men are after Cermak and stopping them are two different matters; and Cermak will not give up his meeting. Meanwhile, crazed Zangara, blaming the president for the world's ills sets out for Miami. So it happens that just as Ness's men nab the telescopic- sight-using rifleman, in time to prevent his carrying out his murder for hire, Zangara strikes and Cermak takes a bullet to protect the president. In the cast as Cermak are great actor Robert Middleton, Sterling Holloway as a befuddled desk clerk who rents the killer the room he requires, Percy Helton, Claude Akins as Ryan, and a host of fine supporting actors in small roles. The production is unusually strong, with music by Nelson Riddle, direction by Howard Koch, a clever script by William Speier, Sandy Grace's sets and very good cinematography by Charles Stradner. Joe Mantell's odyssey as Zangara is very well done; and the tension built in the movie is unusually strong. Highly recommended if not as documentary as an exciting and well-made cinematic adventure plus "mission" story.