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on June 20, 2010
NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL (1955) was one of the two missing "Holy Grail's" of Film Noir. [The other, still missing, is BLACK TUESDAY (1954) with Edward G. Robinson.]

Historically, the movie is a "bridge" between the gang-oriented mobster classics of the 1930s-40s (e.g. LITTLE CAESAR, PUBLIC ENEMY, HIGH SIERRA, WHITE HEAT) and THE GODFATHER. It is one of the earliest films to deal with "organized crime" on a national level, a topic that had been front-page news in the 1950s during Senator Kefauver's Congressional Crime Hearings.

Though "suggested" by a 1950s sensational expose' book by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer, the screenplay by Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse appears to be a work of total fiction.

There is a lot to like in this movie, but it does have its problems.

On the plus side, it boasts a stellar cast of players, not the least of whom is Broderick Crawford, at his snappy-talking, "bull-in-a-china-shop" best. And yet, there are scenes in which he is allowed to exhibit a softer, more humorous side.

Richard Conte is also fine as Crawford's steely-eyed "hatchet man," the kind of role he had played many times, and Anne Bancroft is terrific as Crawford's self-destructive daughter who is ashamed that her father is a mobster.

Other effective players are Marilyn Maxwell, J. Carrol Naish and Mike Masurki.

The picture has several good action sequences involving contract killings, particularly the one in which Mazurki murders a Washington lobbyist that borrows a page from the Alfred Hitchcock suspense handbook.

I saw NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL first run in 1955 (I was 14), and I recall being quite taken with this film that "exposed" organized crime.

Viewing it today, however, I still find it to be fairly entertaining, but it doesn't really hold up as well as some of its gangster predecessors (e.g. WHITE HEAT, HIGH SIERRA). That's because it IS an "expose'," and what was shocking back in 1955 is kind of old hat in 2010. This is, indeed, a film of its time.

The screenplay by Greene and Rouse is a bit "talky," primarily because the writers were trying to make the now well-worn point that much of the country, right up to and including the U.S. Congress, is controlled (or, at least, influenced) by organized crime.

The characters and their family problems are certainly interesting and dramatic, but they lack any real texture, such as you find in THE GODFATHER or even its less successful predecessor, THE BROTHERHOOD (1968), which starred Kirk Douglas.

Rouse directed the picture in a leisurely style, reminiscent of the television version of THE UNTOUCHABLES. Frankly, I think that somebody like Raoul Walsh or Phil Karlson would have infused the movie with a more needed energy.

Despite those minor reservations, I am thankful that VCI Entertainment has made this long missing film available and, as an aficionado of the gangster movie, I am delighted to have it in my collection.

© Michael B. Druxman
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"New York Confidential" is a mildly "noir" exposé of organized crime in America, first released in 1955, when audiences still had a taste, and a fear, for tales of a criminal underworld that was allegedly responsible for evil in America. This was a few years after the Kefauver Committee in Washington had placed organized crime in the spotlight -and in everyone's living room via televised hearings. The film opens with a sober voiceover that informs the viewer of the existence of a "criminal syndicate" that controls most crime in the United States. It goes on to explain that a recent revenge killing in New York broke the rules of that syndicate. The story that follows concerns the endless cycle of revenge that resulted.

When gangster Pete Androtto avenges himself on New York crime boss Charlie Lupo (Broderick Crawford), Lupo feels he must hit back. He calls in a sharp hit man from Chicago, the son of an old mentor from Prohibition days, Nick Magellan (Richard Conte). Nick is a professional, cool guy with nerves of steel. Lupo needs someone with brains and class in New York, so he offers Nick a permanent position. Lupo has bought several Congressmen and Washington lobbyists in order to push through a government loan that the syndicate needs for a billion-dollar oil deal. But a national crime commission has its sights set on the syndicate. Meanwhile, the cycle of revenge killings threatens to compromise Lupo and undermine the syndicate's best-laid plans.

"New York Confidential" posits a centralized crime syndicate of unscrupulous and fabulously wealthy Italian businessmen who run a national criminal network, including legitimate front businesses, where decisions are taken by vote. This is along the lines of what the Kefauver Committee proposed in 1950, though the reality was a lot less centralized and more messy. Nick Magellan is a trustworthy, self-sacrificing professional who accepts that his future lies with the syndicate because of who his father was. Lupo's daughter Kathy (Anne Bancroft), on the other hand, tries mightily to escape her family's legacy. Both characters are appealing; Lupo is compelling as well. The film's "noir" element is limited, however, because Nick never seriously considers resisting his fate.

The DVD (VCI 2010): Bonus features are a Photo Gallery, which is a slide show of production stills (2 min), a theatrical trailer (3 min), a split screen of "Before & After Restoration" (1 min) that allows us to see the results of the restoration work in a few scenes. And there is an audio commentary by film historian Alan K. Bode and film writer Kim Morgan. Bode does most of the talking. This commentary is mediocre because it focuses heavily on discussion of the cast, with very limited discussion of story, themes, and sets. No subtitles.
0Comment3 of 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Warner Bros. and Kit Parker Films presents "NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL" (1955) --- (Dolby digitally remastered) --- The film at times is uneven but the brilliant performances of an outstanding cast is fascinating --- You could say this almost pure film noir with incredible power, usually revolving around Richard Conte, as the calculating cold hitman for hire --- Broderick Crawford's murderous planning is completely straight in a corporate boardroom, shows this audience it is business as usual in the underworld --- Anne Bancroft the rebellious daughter of Broderick Crawford who can't shake her fathers reputation as the leader of the mobs --- an extremely valuable entry in the film noir genre.

Under the production staff of:
Russell Rouse (Director)
Clarence Greene (Screenwriter)
Russell Rouse (Screenwriter)
Clarence Greene (Producer) .
Edward Small (Producer)
Joseph Mullendore (Original Score)
Eddie Fitzgerald (Cinematographer)
Grant Whytock (Film Editor)

BIOS:
1. Broderick Crawford
Date of Birth: 9 December 1911 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 26 April 1986 - Rancho Mirage, California

2. Richard Conte
Date of Birth: 24 March 1910 - Jersey City, New Jersey
Date of Death: 15 April 1975 - Los Angeles, California

3. Anne Bancroft
Date of Birth: 17 September 1931 - The Bronx, New York
Date of Death: 6 June 2005 - New York City, New York

the cast includes:
Broderick Crawford ... Charlie Lupo
Richard Conte ... Nick Magellan
Marilyn Maxwell ... Iris Palmer
Anne Bancroft ... Kathy Lupo
J. Carrol Naish ... Ben Dagajanian
Onslow Stevens ... Johnny Achilles
Barry Kelley ... Robert Frawley
Mike Mazurki ... Arnie Wendler
John Doucette ... Shorty

Hats off and thanks to Robert Blair and his staff at VCI Entertainment --- First time on DVD, this is one not to be missed if you're a fan of "film noir" --- Audio commentary by film historian & author Alan K. Rode and film writer, Kim Morgan; Advertising Gallery --- Digitally Remastered & Restored from the original negative which makes for great viewing.

Total Time: 87 min on DVD ~ VCI Home Video KPF-528 ~ (6/29/2010)
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on August 30, 2010
This is my third adjustment of my review of this film.

First, I love this film, mainly because of the good story, and wonderful characterizations of the lead actors, each in roles refreshingly different from their usual roles. Broderick Crawford and Richard Conte both manage to make their mafia boss / chilly assassin both frighful and likable. Anne Bancroft is wonderful, too, in a moving, deeply layered role, albeit with regrettably short screen time.

Thanks for reading
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on November 25, 2013
Great mob gangster film with wonderful cast. Knocked me out when I saw this first as a youth. Now of dvd it still holds up due in no short measure to gang boss Crawford and number one triggerman Richard Conte.If you like film noir and or gangster flicks you'll love this near classic.
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on July 28, 2010
I liked new york confidential.it's really the kind of movie that if you do not love gangster movies dont waste your time watchin it. I love gangster movies and I thought this was fairly good. It was about big time mobsters and their connections with powerful people like politicians in washington. the movie was fairly well done.It had broderick crawford as a mob boss, anne brancroft as his sexy,tough daughter (as was mentioned before anne bancroft real name is anna marie italiano) and her italian toughness helps the movie along. she is not afraid to talk tough to her dad broderick crawford and richard conte.Richard conte plays broderick crawfords cold, calculating hit man who does his hits with a straight face while ignoring the come ons of sexy ladies like anne bancroft and marilyn maxwell.the movie also has a very welcome addition in casting the huge mike mazurki as a fearsome mobster( you may remember mike mazurki from "farwell my lovely" with dick powell and "some like it hot" as one of george rafts mobsters.)overall I liked the movie but it seemed a little low budget a better director like raoul walsh who directed "high seirra" with humphrey bogart or even john huston who directed "asphalt jungle" could of made this a better more exciting gangster movie! richard conte's first mob hit in the movie is the one to watch(where he is reading the paper and the rival gangsters want him to leave. classic gangsterism!)
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on October 2, 2015
I love film noir movies! When movies were made in an era where Men and Women REALLY acted!!! It's nice to see movies with class and character instead of sex, nudity, blood and gore!
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on June 29, 2010
We know you're out there, you film noir fans who are sweating in summer weather whil wearing trench coats and slinky gowns. Cool off (or, perhaps, heat up even more) with New York Confidential, the 1955 "lost" gem that's finally been released on DVD. An incredible cast tells the story of the fall of the head of a crime syndicate---Broderick Crawford plays the gangland head, spitting out orders like a gattling gun; Richard Conte plays a cold, calculating hit man who approaches his job as if he were merely selling insurance, a stupid, silly job that has to be done. Marilyn Maxwell sizzles as Crawford's dame who has eyes for Conte, but it's a youthful Anne Bancroft that offers surprises. Bancroft's real name was Anna Maria Louisa Italiano, and her Italiano blood fairly boils and bubbles as Crawford's daughter who's sick of the crime game. All manner of things noir ensue in this, one of the first films to treat crime as a corporate, boardroom entity, to be run like any good business.
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on December 8, 2012
Good old fashioned gangster movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it, would recommend it to others who enjoy gangster movies of yesteryear.
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on January 31, 2012
This adddresses comments about the image being cropped off at the top of the DVDs:

On the original 35mm fine grain (the master film element made directly off the camera negative)there is no question that the image looks a bit cropped on the bottom with, conversely, too much headroom on top. To further complicate matters, the logo/main title/credits are perfectly framed. The film was examined by experts, and the technician who transferred the film to digital made sure the entire bottom of the image, as it appeared on the fine grain, was shown on the DVD.

The original 1955 35mm release print shown at the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival looked exactly the same.

So far no one has an explanation as to why!
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