|Vintage Pulp||Sep 12 2023|
Think your boss is bad? Then you've never dealt with a mob boss.
Falling into the category of pleasant surprises, The Mob, for which you see an evocative promo poster above, stars Broderick Crawford as a cop sent to infiltrate an organized crime syndicate. You've seen the idea before. He works his way up the ladder and brings the bad guys down, but this iteration comes with brisk pacing, a set of unpredictable twists, and a supporting cast that includes Ernest Borgine, Richard Kiley, and Lynn Baggett. If you keep your eyes open you might even spot Charles Bronson.
Crawford had already won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for 1949's All the King's Men, so he unsurprisingly does a bang-up job in this film, instilling his deep cover cop with believable toughness and a gruff but relatable humanity. Crawford would later appear in such excellent films as Scandal Sheet, New York Confidential, Born Yesterday, and Human Desire, but The Mob may be his underrated classic.
The only flaw with this film, in our opinion, is a goofball denouement. We suppose, after ninety minutes of almost nonstop high tension, the filmmakers wanted audiences to leave smiling, and we're sure they did, because the scene, while dumb, is pretty funny. But in any case, we recommend giving The Mob a whirl. You'll enjoy it. It opened nationally in the U.S. in late September, but had its actual debut at special premiere today in Dayton, Ohio (why, we don't know) in 1951.
New OrleansAcademy AwardGolden Globe AwardThe MobAll the King's MenNew York ConfidentialScandal SheetHuman DesireBorn YesterdayBroderick CrawfordBetty BuehlerErnest BorgnineLynn BaggettCharles Bronsonposter artcinemamovie review
|Hollywoodland||Jul 7 2023|
Fame may fade but Hollywood never completely forgets.
Along with the joys of celebrity are packaged the pains of public life, especially professional failures and personal disasters. Lynn Baggett—sometimes Lynne Baggett—was a rising actress who had accumulated many uncredited roles between 1941 to 1946, had a two year span of no work, then finally scored a major part in the 1949 film noir D.O.A. She was only twenty-six when that occurred, but it didn't put her career on firm ground. She had another speaking role in 1950, and one in 1951, but it was around then that continual domestic problems began to catch up with her.
She had been involved with producer Sam Speigel since 1945, and had married him in ’48, but the relationship was tempestuous. In 1951 Speigel claimed that Baggett trashed the house they shared, and that she deliberately slashed six Picassos. The next year he filed for divorce, claiming that she had cheated multiple times, including with film director John Huston. At that point her show business career waseffectively finished, but her celebrity was not. The photo just above is from early 1954 and shows her in Santa Monica Superior Court during her drawn out fight for spousal support. She hadn't acted in three years.
Six months later she was driving from a party when she crashed into a car filled with young boys, injuring four and killing nine-year-old Joel Watnick, who'd been ejected entirely from the vehicle. Baggett sped away from the scene, and it took two days for police to find her car at a repair shop, and subsequently track her down. The photo at top shows her on the day of her arrest, which happened to be the same day Watnick was laid to rest. That was today in 1954. It was nationwide news.
Baggett was charged with manslaughter and fleeing the site of an accident, but was convicted only of felony hit-and-run, for which she was sentenced to 60 days in jail and placed on three years of probation. A term that lenient today would cause an uproar audible on Mars. But if Baggett got off light in court, she paid heavily in life. In 1959 she attempted suicide, and in 1960 she was found dead in her apartment from an overdose of barbiturates. Whether her death was suicide is not officially known.
Hollywood, due to its nature of fairy tale successes, tends to produce spectacular falls from grace, disputed facts, and apocrypha. Baggett's story is more clear-cut than most. She'd suffered from depression, marital strife, and career disappointment. Many articles about her suggest that a bad ending was inevitable, and maybe it was. Maybe she even predicted it. When arrested, she said about fleeing the accident, “When I went back and saw the boy lying there, I knew he was dead. I didn’t know which way to turn. You don’t know what something like that does to you. I wish I’d been killed instead of the boy.”