EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THE GANG THAT COULDN'T SHOOT STRAIGHT (director: James Goldstone; screenwriters: Waldo Salt/from the novel by Jimmy Breslin; cinematographer: Owen Roizman; editor: Edward A. Biery; music: Dave Grusin; cast: Jerry Orbach (Kid Sally Palumbo), Leigh Taylor-Young (Angela Palumbo), Jo Van Fleet (Big Momma), Lionel Stander (Baccala), Robert De Niro (Mario Trantino), Irving Selbst (Big Jelly), Herve Villechaize (Beppo), Frank Campanella (Water Buffalo), Fran Stevens (Baccala's Wife), Harry Basch (DeLauria), Burt Young (Uncle Willie), Sander Vanocur (TV newscaster), Philip Sterling (District Attorney Goodman), Phil Bruns (Gallagher), Jach Kehoe (Bartender), Alice Hirson (The Mayor's Wife), Roy Shuman (The Mayor), Dorothi Fox (Black Meter Maid), Robert Weil (Circus Supply Mgr.); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Irwing Winkler/Robert Chartoff; MGM; 1971)|
comedy spoof based on the best seller 1968
novel by Jimmy Breslin tanks."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
gangster comedy spoof based on the best seller 1968
novel by Jimmy Breslin tanks mainly because so-so
director James Goldstone ("Roller
Coaster"/"Swashbuckler"/"Red Sky at Morning") is
the wrong choice and the slapstick comedy results in a
mess, and it's further not helped by writer Waldo
Salt's inability to transfer the novel's funny
dialogue to film. The filmmakers botched making this
very funny novel funny, as they failed to make it come
to life on the screen.
old-time Brooklyn Mafia boss Anthony
"Baccala" Vestrummo (Lionel Stander)
has his dutiful wife (Fran Stevens) regularly
start his car to see if there's no bomb attached to
the starter before going to work in South Brooklyn
from his Long Island estate. Third-rate young
ambitious gangster Salvatore "Kid Sally"
Palumbo (Jerry Orbach) leaves his
humble walk-up Brooklyn apartment, where he resides
with his NYU coed sister Angela (Leigh
Taylor-Young) and his eccentric knife-wielding
elderly grandma, Big Momma Ferrara (Jo
Van Fleet), who counsels him how to run his half-assed
gang that includes a dwarf (Herve
Villechaize). Kid Sally's boys collect
protection money in Red Hook for Baccala,
but complain they are not paid enough. Baccala gives
the screw-ups one more chance to redeem themselves
as valued Mafia workers, as he gives
them the important job of running an upcoming
bicycle race in the Brooklyn Armory that will feature
an Italian team.
the pro cyclist from an impoverished small-town in
Sicily is Mario Trantino (Robert
De Niro), a kleptomaniac who steals
everything from his hotel. At a party welcoming the
Italian cyclists, Angela is amused by Mario's
pocketing the food he steals from the party and they
leave the party to walk together in the neighborhood
and start a romance.
the bicycle track has not been completed
and that causes the race to be cancelled, the irate Baccala
reduces the gang to being his drivers. Upset with
this decision to humiliate them, Kid Sally tries a
number of times to assassinate Baccala and his right
hand man Water Buffalo (Frank
Campanella), but Sally's boys
screw-up the hits. The DA (Philip
Sterling) is worried about a gang war in
Brooklyn, and assigns police to monitor the gangs.
the larcenous Mario steals a priest's suit from an
ecclesiastical tailor and poses as a priest to ask for
money for poor Italian orphans. While collecting,
Mario is given Baccala's name and telephone
number by a donor. The mobster is perceived as someone
who will contribute generously to such a cause. After
attending a few funerals for his hired hit men who
killed themselves or were accidentally killed trying
to carry out the hit, Kid Sally schemes to use the
phony priest, now hooked up with Baccala, in his
assassination attempt on his rival.
were some laughs, but the black comedy mostly
disappoints with tacky slapstick and should have been
REVIEWED ON 1/28/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ