What was Edward G Robinson's real name

Movie Magazine 2: The Last Gangster - 1937

USA 1937
With Edward G. Robinson, Rose Stradner, Lionel Stander, James Stewart, John Carradine, Douglas Scott, Sidney Blackmer, Grant Mitchell et al.
Script: John Lee Mahin according to a script by William A. Wellman and Robert Carson
Director: Edward Ludwig
Studio: MGM
Duration: 81 min
The film never ran in German cinemas. In 1988 it was broadcast for the first time on German television, under the title The last gangster.

Opening credits:
Gang boss Joe Krozac (Robinson) has married a docile woman from his old homeland (Stradner). She hardly speaks English, doesn't ask questions and - gives him a son. Shortly before his birth, Joe is booked for tax fraud. In the meantime, his wife finds out from a newspaper editor who she has gotten involved with. When Joe is released ten years later, his wife lives with another man, reporter Paul North (Stewart). Joe's son calls this "father". When Joe goes looking for Joe Junior, he experiences one nasty surprise after the other ...

The film:
Why the film The Last Gangster That means, remains a mystery even after the visioning. In no scene is reference made to the finality claim made by the film title, and the context does not provide any explanation. Was that an "inside joke" referring to Edward G. Robinson? had given the gangster so often that he was fed up with it and this should have been "his last gangster"? Right after The Last Gangster Although he slipped twice more into the well-known role that he had played practically uninterrupted before; However, these two films were comedies, and the gangster became a joke. In the film after that he was seen as a law professor. And from then on it’s all about gangster roles - Robinson only liked to play gangsters in comedies. But this, too, remained the exception.
It was not until John Houston in 1948 that he got him to take on the old role popular with the public, in the classic Key Largo (1948). So Joe Krozac was, in a sense, Robinson's last serious gangster - at least for the next eleven years.

The film's basic conflict (gangster versus middle-class family) sounds interesting, but it's not. It is handled far too superficially and implausibly for this. The “good guys” - Krozac's wife, her new boyfriend and son - remain pale and one-dimensional. The contrast between Robinson's die-hard gangster and Stewart's conscientious "boy scout" works not really, not least because the role of the good newspaper man remains completely underdeveloped and Stewart can be seen in the film for about seven minutes in total. The scenes between him and Krozac's wife look as if something has fallen victim to the scissors. Stewart only has a common scene with Robinson, and he only looks around passively. It was to remain the only film scene between the two superstars.
Indeed it came into being The Last Gangster at a time when nobody really knew what to do with James Stewart. He tried different types of roles, including that of the singing lover. Here he has not one memorable appearance, looks awkward and out of place and also has to wear a mustache. Rose Stradner is also not convincing. She does get more movie time, but her charisma is pale and her acting ability is obviously limited. It also leaves no impression, any more than the young Douglas Scott as Joe Junior.

And still know The Last Gangster to convince and inspire to a large extent.
The sequences, and they are in the clear majority, which deal with Krozac and his environment, are absolutely gripping and haunting. All gangster actors, especially Robinson, deliver captivating, precise character studies. In addition, a certain authenticity can be felt in the description of her millieu, which fascinates. Especially the long sequences in the transport of the dispossessed and in the prison are of a rather untypical harshness for MGM. The automation of the high security gym, which reduces the guards to pushing buttons and mute screen observers, is excellently worked out. Art Director Cedric Gibbons gets something else to do here than equipping stately interiors and, with borrowings from Expressionist film, impressively proves that it also masters other genres. In those sequences, the film shines with a delirious visual language that more than once reminds us of Fritz Lang.

And then of course there is Edward G. Robinson! The Last Gangster is be Movie. It's amazing how he merges with the role of the cultureless, brutal egomaniac. When you see him in one of his gangster roles, you hardly believe what a cultivated, polite and educated person he must have been in private. And yet it somehow shines through, at least he manages to give the puke human traits. The devil knows how he does it, but towards the end you feel sorry for the guy.
When Robinson is in the picture, he rules the screen; his screen presence is so compelling that (almost) all of the other actors pale in next to him.

Two people can hold Robinson's presence at bay: Lionel Stander and John Carradine, both in gangster roles. Stander gives an extremely dodgy character here, which surprised me positively, as I only know this actor from comedies. And with Carradine it’s going down your spine - which is not surprising for him. He can play anything from the murderer to the priest!

Robinson, Stander, Carradine, make a gripping depiction of the gangster and prison milieu and a completely unpredictable course of action The Last Gangster to the worthwhile discovery. And the director can also be praised, forgotten today. It should be interesting to look at other works by Edward Ludwig and see whether the good impression is confirmed. More about him in

Edward Ludwig was a native Russian. He drew his first films with Edward I. Luddy, at the beginning of the sound film era he called himself Edward Ludwig. His real name was Isidor Litwack (thanks to Manfred Pollak for pointing this out). Although he has made over 100 films - including many short silent comedies - he is practically forgotten today. His sound films mainly include adventure films, b-westerns and a few comedies. Based on the film discussed here, Ludwig seems to have attached great importance to good craftsmanship despite the often less demanding materials. His best-known work is the war film The Fighting Seabees with John Wayne (German: Alarm in the Pacific, 1944). In 1940 he made an early version of the Swiss Family Robinson (German: Isle of the Lost) with Thomas Mitchell, Freddie Bartholomew and Tim Holt. During the silent film era, Ludwig initially worked as a screenwriter.
In front The Last Gangster Ludwig made the crime drama Her Husband Lies with Ricardo Cortez and Gail Patrick (also 1937) and then the romantic comedy That certain age (1938) with Deanna Durbin and Melvyn Douglas. Both films were never shown in this country.
Rose Stradner was an Austrian actress who was discovered by Louis B. Mayer on a talent search tour through Europe. She worked with Max Reinhard at the theater and appeared in ten German films between 1933 and 1936; She made her screen debut in Gerhard Lamprecht's comedy A certain Mr. Gran (1933), in which she played the leading female role alongside Hans Albers and Albert Bassermann. The Last Gangster was her first film in Hollywood, then featured in two more, and then turned her back on the film. An ugly divorce story from her first husband, the director Karlheinz Martin (he made the only real expressionist silent film in 1920 From morning to midnight - see under "eye food"), absorbed all her attention. Two years later she married the author, director and producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz and from then on took care of the family - without finding fulfillment in it. Possibly it was the notorious infidelity of her husband and her dissatisfaction with the role of mother, which first led her into alcoholism, into deep depression and finally into a mental breakdown. In 1958 Rose Stradner ended her life with an overdose of sleeping pills.
John Lee Mahin was a sought-after screenwriter; Over the decades he has written scripts for a number of excellent films, including working on Scarface (1932), and wrote screenplays for Victor Flemings Captains Courageous (German: Manuel, 1937) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Henry Hathaways Down to the Sea in Ships (Eng .: sailorless, 1949), Georg Sidneys Show boat (1951), Mervyn LeRoys Quo Vadis (1951) and John Fords Mogambo (1953).
William A. Wellman was actually a director (The Ox-Bow Incident - German: Ride to the Ox-Bow, 1943). But at the time of The Last Gangster he fell out with MGM's boss Louis B. Mayer. Wellman said to Mayer what he thought of him after an argument and was then turned cold by him. He was paid but had nothing to do. So he started writing scripts for movies - The Last Gangster was one of them. In the same year, however, he was filming again: Sein Nothing Sacred (German: Nothing is sacred to them) came 14 days after The Last Gangster in the cinemas - producer was David O. Selznick!

The Last Ganster is a forgotten, largely successful gangster story of a different kind, a film that would have deserved a German DVD or Blu-ray release. In this country it is / was not available on DVD, Blu-ray or VHS.
In the USA it appeared on a DVD of the extensive Warner Archive Collection, with very good image transfer. It can be ordered at low shipping costs here.

The film was evidently well received by the audience and was green; Edward G.Robinson as a gangster - that was a crowd puller back then.


Film snippets

Shortzensions - contemporary films seen this week:
A girl like her

(Amy S. Weber, USA 2015) With Lexi Ainsworth, Hunter King, Jimmy Bennett and others
A horror film staged with the means of documentary film - we have known that since The Blair Which Project (USA 1999). But there is also everyday horror - for example the one that a victim of bullying goes through. So it is only logical if such everyday horror is also filmed with a wobbly camera and thus provided with a documentary "credibility claim". A girl like her is such an attempt. The filmmaker Amy S. Weber (Annabelle & Bear, 2010) demonstrates the everyday horror of bullying using the means of documentary film. That makes perfect sense, because in this way things can be shown that would not be possible in the real documentary. Things that get under your skin. For example the attacks of the aggressors, or the immediate reactions of the environment. In the film, the victim, high school graduate Jessica (Ainsworth), attempts suicide and falls into a coma. That gives the framework for Weber's work. While Jessica's relatives fear for their lives, her story is rolled out. The intiantess of the bullying, a former classmate of Jessica, moves more and more into the center. The documentary form has a few weaknesses (in between there is a lack of credibility), but also very strong advantages. The action is so immediate that it hits the audience with full emotional force and really shakes them up. A girl like her makes you think.
A girl like her is a contemporary forgotten film, an outstanding, important work that was completely lost in the blockbuster boom and film oversupply. It would be very desirable if it could find a German distributor or at least a DVD provider!

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
(German: Code name U.N.C.L.E., Guy Ritchie, USA 2015) With Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant and others
This remake of the TV series of the same name from the sixties is an entertaining, wonderfully undercooled agent film parody, with a well-humored team of actors, wonderful dialogues and finesse in staging. The whole thing tires a bit in the long run, because the funny quarrels between the Russian and the American spy have to take a back seat towards the end in favor of an action-packed showdown.

Magic in the moonlight
(Woody Allen, USA 2014) With Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden and others
I was a big Woody Allen fan in the 1980s; at that time his best works were created (Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo); then - with exceptions - his work went downhill. As a fan, I always give the man a chance, and at first I thought I would Magic in the moonlight would have found all of them back to their old freshness. But towards the end there was disillusionment: The playful game about the meaning and futility of life shines with great, challenging dialogues, but is so carelessly and listlessly staged that you get the feeling that everyone likes to write scripts, but is not able to implement them more really interested.

Eye lining:
From morning to midnight
(Karlheinz Martin, Germany 1922) With Ernst Deutsch, Erna Morena, Roma Bahn, etc.
Here is my article on the only really expressionist German silent film. And below it can be viewed in full length.


This week's classic movie - look at other movie blogs:
- Schlombie presents two completely different classics of German production Schlombie's movie reviews in front: The witcher(Carl Lamac, 1932) and ... and not yet sixteen(Peter Baumgartner, 1967).
- And another German film oldie: Freddy and the melody of the night (Wolfgang Schleif, 1960), discussed on the blog The heather is green.

The next issue will once again focus on a classic from French cinema, René Clairs La beauté du diable (German: The pact with the devil, 1950), a comedic Faust variation in which the two grand mimes Michel Simon and Gérard Philippe set off a veritable fireworks display: Simon embodies both old Faust and Mefistofeles, who at the same time pretends to be old Faust. And Philippe plays Faust, who has grown young - and the devil.

I like it:

LikeLoading ...