Saturday, March 5, 2016

THE HOODLUM (1951)


Monarch Films produced this low budget crime drama, complete with studio backlot sets and in-studio automobile interiors. A few scenes are shot on location but any realism is diminished by a cheap production.

The opening automobile scene, with frantic violin solo, shows a very worried Lawrence Tierney slowly scowling over at this real life brother Edward behind the wheel. Tierney has the look which indicates whatever is going to happen will not be pleasant. The scene flashbacks to Tierney’s teen days to explain this lifelong sociopathic criminal behavior. Someone who has been blind to the thought of reforming and feels no one will ever give him a break. He trusts no one. Tierney’s performance is the reason to watch this hour-long film, though his previous performance in “Born to Kill” probably took this type of character to even lower lows. It is another in a string of despicable characters that critics came down hard against. I imagine they expected nothing more from Tierney.
Edward, in his first credited film appearance, owns a successful gas station business and gives his brother a job in hopes he will finally settle down. Instead, Tierney immediately tries to figure a way to steal the money from the armored car stopped at the bank across the street. To make Tierney even more despicable he seduces his sister-in-law who becomes pregnant. Totally uncaring about this, he assembles a gang to hit the bank. The brother thinks something is suspicious in front of the bank but is stopped from calling the police by the butt end of Tierney’s gun.
As real life robber Baron Lamm taught every bank robber to follow, they switch cars at a planned location. Their limo getaway is facilitated by bringing up the tail end of a funeral procession which gets them through a roadblock. At their hideout, the gang turns on Tierney and leaves him with a mighty big headache. He returns to his mother’s dying beside with selfish remorse but it is too late. His mother, Lisa Golm, gives him a good tongue lashing for being a rotten soul. The film closes with a return to the opening scene on their way to the city dump. Right where bad brother belongs. Tierney seems puzzled by it all. What would cause this kind of brotherly behavior?

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