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The Purple Gang (1960)

Barry Sullivan , Robert Blake , Frank Mcdonald  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Barry Sullivan, Robert Blake, Elaine Edwards, Marc Cavell, Jody Lawrence
  • Directors: Frank Mcdonald
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2011
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005EXA86E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,020 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Pay now. Or pay with your life. Armed and arrogant, a baby-faced teen named Honeyboy Willard terrorizes hardened rumrunners until they agree to shell out protection money. Soon Honeyboy and his underage thugs, the Purple Gang, control Detroit, turning the screws until local businessmen, driven to desperation, call in the Chicago Mafia to outmuscle their homegrown mob. Disarmingly boyish, Robert Blake (In Cold Blood) makes a chilling Honeyboy, a psychopath equally thrilled by luring a cop to his death or cramming his best pal alive in a coffin, pouring in cement, and dropping him in the river. "That's the way we work," Honeyboy says. Bet on it.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Robert Blake As a Killer: Detroit's Honeyboy Willard November 20, 2011
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Robert Blake has always been a dedicated actor and an outspoken personality.
He began acting in "Our Gang" comedies in 1939, and deserved an Oscar for
enacting real-life mass murderer Perry Smith in 1967's "In Cold Blood." When
Blake would guest on The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson would just throw up his arms
and laugh helplessly at Blake's hilarious rantings and ravings about myriad topics.
And of course, he was the defendant in both criminal and civil murder trials for
the shooting death of his second wife. Blake walked away freed but bankrupt.

In 1960, Blake had a good young adult role as Honeyboy Willard, the coldblooded,
ruthless, milk-drinking leader of Detroit's 1930's Purple Gang. Honeyboy starts
his criminal career leading robberies of mom-and-pop grocery stores, then graduates
to muscling his way into the lucrative bootlegging of Canadian whiskey. Along the
way are such sordid episodes as the rape and murder of a "progressive do-gooder"
juvenile social worker; the physical terrorizing of a pregnant woman by masked
hoodlums; Willard's tommy-gun mowing down a trio of rival gangsters; and his callous
fitting of his mistrusted best friend with a "cement overcoat." Between these evil
tidbits are screen montages of blazing guns, whirling gambling wheels, and model-T
car chases and crashes. Big. tough Barry Sullivan plays the honest police detective
who must endure a despicable attack on his own family and bring the jabbering and
claustrophobic Honeyboy to justice.

"The Purple Gang" was one in a rash of gangster movies to appear in cinemas after
the huge T.V. success of "The Untouchables." Such frequent "gangster actors" as
Joseph Turkel and Paul Dubov strut their stuff, uttering tough bromides to Blake.
It's not a world-beater, but should satisfy addicts of prohibition crime dramas,
where women are as likely as men to get blasted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The names have been changed to protect.... May 8, 2012
The Purple Gang was a bunch of Jewish gangsters who ruled Detroit during the Prohibition era. They were so crazy that the Mafia did not get a foothold in Detroit until after the Purples self-destructed. Rumor has it that Capone hired the Purples for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. They were the most deadly gangsters America has ever seen and someday Hollywood will do a proper movie on them. Until then, we have this movie. It is not bad. Whoever wrote it knew the real story as some of the events and places are accurate. There was a"Honeyboy" Miller in the Purple Gang but he was a minor figure and the character in the movie is more likely based on a couple of different members of the gang. Probably Eddie Fletcher and or Abe Axler. The 4 Bernstein Brothers were the brains behind the Purple Gang. This movie is a blend of fact and fiction. If you just want to see a gangster yarn, this isn't bad. Not as good as the old Cagney gangster films but as good or better than what they were turning out in the late 50s and early 60s. This is real similar to an extended Untouchables episode. Barry Sullivan even comes off a little like Robert Stack playing Elliot Ness. If you want the know the real story of the Purple Gang, there is an excellent book on the topic by Paul R. Kavieff titled "The Purple Gang: Organized crime in Detroit 1910-1945".
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4.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts no matter what end of it your on. January 9, 2014
By Terence
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This book/DVD is a part of a series of books we ordered to learn all about the original bad boys in America. Wow! Wow! Wow!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie with minor flaws January 1, 2014
By Deputy
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Good, solid gangster movie from the black and white era. When you watch this you have to understand a few things. First, it is an anti-crime propaganda movie. Much like the anti-Hitler movies made just prior to WW2. The writers and director try and make Barry Sullivan out to be an anti-crime hero that gives up his personal life to stop the Purple Gang. Yeah that would EVER happen. Secondly, this movie was made in the heydey of "psychological explainations" for EVERYTHING. So they blamed the members of the Purple Gang and especially the leader, Robert Blake's character, as being mentally unstable and having a poor upbringing. It was kinda cool to see the Purple Gang rub out the shrink that was trying to protect them with her psycho-babble.
Robert Blake was just plain AWESOME as the leader of the Purple Gang. You end up hoping he will beat the cops and not get caught. But since this is a message movie of "crime doesn't pay", you know in advance that will never happen. Blake is at his best playing the cold, cruel gangster shooting up the competition. The psycho scenes and a terrible ending that makes no sense are the worst parts of the movie. In one scene one of the gang members suggests they leave town for a while to let things cool off. Blake tells him "and let the Mafia take over? Besides, that's what lawyers are for". That is exactly what a gang member would say. But then at the ending, the propaganda takes over and Blake is a crying baby cowering in the corner after Sullivan slaps him. A more real ending would have been for Blake to say "Forgetaboutit, see my lawyer" and sneering in Sullivan's face.
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5.0 out of 5 stars movie December 25, 2013
By lisaG
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For my brother he was friends with one of the gang members, great movie price was a little high but I got it anyway
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