The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
|The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight|
|Directed by||James Goldstone|
|Screenplay by||Waldo Salt|
|Based on||The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight|
by Jimmy Breslin
|Produced by||Robert Chartoff|
Jo Van Fleet
Robert De Niro
|Edited by||Edward A. Biery|
|Music by||Dave Grusin|
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight is a 1971 American crime comedy film directed by James Goldstone and written by Waldo Salt, based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Jimmy Breslin, which in turn was based on the life of gangster Joe Gallo. The film stars Jerry Orbach, Leigh Taylor-Young, Jo Van Fleet, Lionel Stander, Robert De Niro and Irving Selbst. The film was released on December 22, 1971, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Kid Sally Palumbo (Jerry Orbach) grows jealous of his older, mobster boss Baccala (Lionel Stander), who has little respect for the crew Palumbo commands. Baccala allows Kid Sally to supervise a six-day bicycle race (for the purposes of keeping the money generated), and among the 12 Italian cyclists brought into the city is Mario Trantino (Robert De Niro), a budding thief. When the bicycle race does not take place due to outside interference, Sally is demoted to serving Baccala as a chauffeur, and Trantino stays in New York City to run his own cons, including masquerading as a priest. Kid Sally's mother Big Momma (Jo Van Fleet) urges him to take down the old, entrenched mobsters in power, but it appears the only fatalities are in his own camp, and the increase in violence draws the attention of the city police.
- Jerry Orbach as Salvatore 'Kid Sally' Palumbo
- Leigh Taylor-Young as Angela Palumbo
- Jo Van Fleet as Big Momma Palumbo
- Lionel Stander as Baccala
- Robert De Niro as Mario Trantino
- Irving Selbst as 'Big Jelly' Catalano
- Hervé Villechaize as Beppo 'The Dwarf'
- Joe Santos as Ezmo
- Carmine Caridi as Tony 'The Indian'
- Frank Campanella as Water Buffalo
- Harry Basch as Joseph DeLauria
- Sander Vanocur as Television Commentator
- Phil Bruns as Gallagher
- Philip Sterling as District Attorney Goodman
- Jack Kehoe as Bartender
- Despo Diamantidou as Mourner
- Sam Coppola as Julie DiBiasi
- James Sloyan as Joey
- Paul Benedict as 'Shots' O'Toole
- Lou Criscuolo as Junior
- George Loros as Jerry
- Harry Davis as Dominic Laviano
- Burt Young as Willie Quarequio
- Jackie Vernon as Herman
- Ted Beniades as A Black Suit
- Fat Thomas as A Black Suit
- Roy Shuman as The Mayor
- Alice Hirson as The Mayor's Wife
- Michael V. Gazzo as A Black Suit
- Robert Gerringer as Commissioner McGrady
- Walter Flanagan as The Super
- Dan Morgan as Muldoon
- Dorothi Fox as Meter Maid
- Robert Weil as Circus Supply Manager
- Margo Winkler as Airline Clerk
- Leopold Badia as Old Waiter
- Fran Stevens as Baccala's Wife
- Florence Tarlow as Police Matron
- Rita Karin as Mrs. Goldfarb
- Tom Lacy as Religious Salesman
- William H. Boesen as Jury Foreman
- Gary Melkonian as Greek Racer
- Gustave Johnson as Detective Jenkins
- George Stefans as Greek Captain
- Alisha Fontaine as Jelly's Girl
- Lorrie Davis as Jelly's Other Girl
- Frank Jourdano as TV Reporter
- Elsa Raven as Mrs. Buffalo
- Gloria LeRoy as Ida
According to Irwin Winkler, Francis Ford Coppola asked to write and direct the movie but Winkler turned him down, feeling Coppola did not have the skills to make a mafia film. Al Pacino was originally cast in the lead but during rehearsal pulled out to play a role in The Godfather; he was replaced by Robert De Niro.
Shot on location in South Brooklyn, the film was the subject of a Robin Green-written November 25, 1971 Rolling Stone article "Shooting the Gang That Couldn’t" which was described in its subtitle as "a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a Robert DeNiro [sic] movie."
Winkler wrote in his memoirs that he felt the director was more interested in sticking to the schedule than working with the actors. He felt the final film was neither funny nor dramatic.
The movie received negative reviews. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars, writing: "Maybe part of the trouble is James Goldstone's direction, which tends toward the heavy-handed." and "The performances are too broad, the characters are too many, the plot is too indifferent to the structure of the movie, and - surprisingly - the movie is too sweet." Howard Thompson didn't mince words as he called the film "a tasteless mess" and Jo Van Fleet's performance "terrible." His only praise was for the interaction between Leigh Taylor-Young and Robert De Niro.
The movie has been released on VHS and DVD.
- "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971) - Overview - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight". TV Guide. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971) – American Film Institute (AFI). Retrieved February 18, 2020
- Winkler, Irwin (2019). A Life in Movies: Stories from Fifty Years in Hollywood (Kindle ed.). Abrams Press. pp. 726–814/3917.
- Green, Robin. "Shooting the Gang That Couldn’t," Rolling Stone, November 25, 1971. Retrieved February 18, 2020
- Ebert, Roger (December 28, 1971). "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight". Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- Thompson, Howard. "Gang That Couldn't' Opens Here," The New York Times, Thursday, December 23, 1971. Retrieved February 18, 2020