Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Mob (1951): Undercover Brod

Broderick Crawford,
Above: Broderick Crawford contemplating his next move in "The Mob" (1951).

Bear? Bull? Rhino? Or was it a large Tomcat who’d seen one too many alleys?

As I watched the highly entertaining crime flick, The Mob (1951), I kept trying to figure out the striking yet elusive resemblance of the star, Broderick Crawford, to some deceptively slow-moving yet potentially lethal creature.  I admit to a weakness for Crawford. It’s not simply because of the gruff authority he brought to barking the phrase “10-4″ into a car radio repeatedly in endless rotations of the syndicated Ziv production of Highway Patrol on the tube.

Nor is it the relish he brought to his Oscar winning role in All The King’s Men (as Willie Stark, a politician novelist Robert Penn Warren had based on Huey Long), especially when he rose up in public to announce “I’ve been accused of stealing one million dollars. It’s a lie. I stole three million! But I stole it for you! To build your hospitals, your schools, your roads…” It probably started when I first saw Crawford’s jaded but sympathetic cop in Black Angel (1946), though Brod may have permanently wormed his way into my affections the night when, as a callow lass in 1977, I spied his boiled ham face as he loomed up on Saturday Night Live, delivering his grumpily terse monologue as host from a large easy chair, looking quite unready for prime time. Or, in more recently viewed cinematic memory, his appearance on TCM in Night Unto Night (1947), another forgotten film unearthed to reveal Crawford playing a nice change of pace as a garrulous, philosophical, life-affirming artist (whose huge paintings look like something created by an American Diego Rivera crossed with Oskar Kokoschka). Btw, in this movie he’s trying to help straighten out the life of one Ronald Reagan, who’s asked to be the brooding lead of this occasionally intriguing early Don Siegel directorial effort...More on the TCM Movie Morlocks


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