Baby Face Nelson (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Baby Face Nelson
Theater release lobby card
Directed by Don Siegel
Produced by Al Zimbalist
Screenplay by Irving Shulman
Story by
Music by Van Alexander
Cinematography Hal Mohr
Edited by Leon Barsha
Fryman Enterprises
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • December 11, 1957 (1957-12-11) (New York City)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.25 million (US rentals)[1]

Baby Face Nelson is a 1957 film noir crime film based on the real-life 1930s gangster, directed by Don Siegel, co-written by Daniel Mainwaring—who also wrote the screenplay for Siegel's 1956 sci-fi thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers—and starring Mickey Rooney, Carolyn Jones, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo Gordon, Anthony Caruso, Jack Elam and John Hoyt.


Chicago mob boss Rocca manages to get Lester Gillis sprung from jail in Joliet. His motive is to have Gillis kill a labor organizer, but Gillis refuses, preferring to work with Rocca's gang on robberies instead. He meets mob moll Sue Nelson and they start a relationship. He is relaxing, alone in his hotel room, when cops burst in, finding a gun Rocca has planted to frame Gillis for the labor leader's murder. Gillis vows revenge, escapes from the cops with Sue's help, then guns down Rocca and two henchmen. He adopts Sue's surname as an alias.

In a holdup at a pharmacy, Gillis is winged by a gunshot. He goes to Doc Saunders, whose patients include America's most wanted criminal, John Dillinger (portrayed by Leo Gordon). Acquiring a nickname, "Baby Face Nelson", a grateful Gillis joins up with Dillinger and quickly becomes the FBI's second most wanted man.

The ruthless Baby Face goes on a shooting spree, even killing innocent motorists just to steal a car. He doesn't like playing second fiddle to Dillinger, but after the arch-criminal is shot in Chicago, it becomes Baby Face's turn to be public enemy number one. He commits multiple murders, even killing Doc in a fit of anger, and frightens Sue by placing a rifle sight on children.

Trapped by a roadblock, Baby Face flees on foot and is shot several times. Stumbling to a graveyard, he pleads with Sue at first, then taunts her, to put him out of his misery, and she does.



When the film was released film critic Bosley Crowther panned the film writing, "Baby Face Nelson, heading the double bill on the Loew's circuit, is a thoroughly standard, pointless and even old-fashioned gangster picture, the kind that began going out along with the oldtime sedans. As a matter of fact, one of the few absorbing sights in this United Artists release, starring Mickey Rooney, is a continual procession of vintage jaloppys, chugging in and out of the proceedings ... The other distinction, also mild, is Sir Cedric Hardwicke's professional portrait of a seedy, lecherous and alcoholic physician who consorts with criminals."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, January 8, 1958, p. 30
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosly, film review, The New York Times, December 12, 1957. Accessed: July 6, 2013.

External links[edit]