The Gangster

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The Gangster
The Gangster Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGordon Wiles
Produced byFrank King
Maurice King
Written byDaniel Fuchs
Screenplay byDaniel Fuchs
Dalton Trumbo
Based onLow Company
StarringBarry Sullivan
Joan Lorring
Akim Tamiroff
Music byLouis Gruenberg
CinematographyPaul Ivano
Edited byWalter A. Thompson
Distributed byAllied Artists Pictures
Release date
  • November 25, 1947 (1947-11-25) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Gangster (aka Low Company) is a 1947 American crime film noir directed by Gordon Wiles. The drama features Barry Sullivan, Belita, Joan Lorring and Akim Tamiroff. The screenplay was written by Daniel Fuchs, based on his novel Low Company (1937).[1]


Shubunka is a racketeer, at odds with Cornell, a rival. Shubunka has a girlfriend, Nancy Starr, a showgirl, and offers protection to a New York beachfront cafe owned by Nick Jammey.

A regular customer, Karty, has gambling debts and has stolen money from his brothers-in-law's garage. He begs Shubunka for help but is refused. Dorothy, the cafe's cashier, quits her job, disillusioned by Shubunka's involvement in the rackets and concern for no one but himself.

Cornell wants to take over Shubunka's rackets. Jammey gives him inside information on Shubunka's organization. After a couple of Cornell's men beat him up on a picnic, Shubunka angrily accuses Nancy of having him set up. Karty has disappeared, meantime, but when his frantic wife appeals to Shubunka for help, he again infuriates Dorothy by saying no.

Karty gets into a fight with Jammey at the cafe and accidentally kills him with a skillet. Cornell mistakenly believes Shubunka to be responsible and goes after him. This time Nancy does betray Shubunka, having been bribed with a Broadway stage offer by Cornell.

Shubunka runs to Dorothy for help, but she declines, calling it just deserts for his unwillingness to help anyone else. With nowhere to hide, Shubunka is killed by Cornell in the street, just before the police arrive to place Cornell under arrest.



Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, writing, "A Poverty Row crime melodrama that has its moments of traditional crime, but moves along not in the traditional way of tracing the rise and fall of its protagonist. Instead the film noir is more concerned with establishing a forlorn mood and being artistically stylish, as director Gordon Wiles (won an Oscar as art director for the 1931 Transatlantic) creates a theatrical piece that is unnecessarily stagelike and much too pretentious for the modest storyline. It is adapted by screenwriter Daniel Fuchs from his book Low Company, and much of its too arty nature is attributed by rumor to the uncredited role Dalton Trumbo played in the screenplay."[2]

TV Guide gave the film a positive review, writing, "The Gangster is an offbeat entry in the film noir genre, one that places the accent on the psychological. Though at times muddled, the script strives to maintain a deeper approach than such films as The Public Enemy or Al Capone. In its day this film was considered something of an artistic triumph..."[3]

Noir analysis[edit]

Film historian Blake Lucas, discussed the film noir aspects of the film, writing, ...The Gangster is arty and affected, as director Gordon Wiles has gravitated toward the creation of a theatrical rather than a visual impression. A film - and the most visually exciting of film noir bear this out - can show discernment and restraint when there are pretentious aspects implicit in the material."[4]


  1. ^ The Gangster on IMDb .
  2. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 12, 2004. Last accessed: February 26, 2011.
  3. ^ TV Guide, film review. Last accessed: February 26, 2011.
  4. ^ Silver, Alain, and Elizabeth Ward, eds. Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, film noir analysis by Blake Lucas, page 111, 3rd edition, 1992. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5.

External links[edit]