Murder, Inc. (1960)

103 mins | Drama | July 1960

Writers:

Irve Tunick, Mel Barr

Producer:

Burt Balaban

Cinematographers:

Gayne Rescher, Joseph Brun

Editor:

Ralph Rosenblum

Production Designer:

Richard Sylbert

Production Company:

Princess Production Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening and closing onscreen cast credits differ slightly in order. Although the opening credits read "introducing" Peter Falk, Falk first appeared onscreen in the 1958 film Wind Across the Everglades (See Entry). The picture opens with the following written prologue: "This happened in Brooklyn, the city of churches. The time was the mid-thirties. The story is factual. The people are real." Although the DV and Var review note that film's running time at 103 minutes, the ^NYT review lists a 120 minute running time. According to a Jan 1960 article in Publishers Weekly , Burton Turkus, one of the authors of the book on which the film was based, was the prosecuting attorney in the Murder, Inc. crime syndicate case. The Aug-Sep issue of Films in Review notes that the subplot involving "Joey" and "Eadie" was totally fictional and was added for the film, but the rest of the events were true.
       According to an Aug 1959 DV news item, seven different motion picture producers fought over the rights to the title Murder, Inc. until an arbitration committee of the MPAA finally awarded it to producer Burt Balaban's Princess Production Corp. Although a Feb 1960 DV news item stated that Lee Bowman was considered for the cast and Rocky Graziano was signed, neither appeared in the released film. A HR production chart placed Toni Arden in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Jul 1960 article in Cue stated that location filming was done in ... More Less

The opening and closing onscreen cast credits differ slightly in order. Although the opening credits read "introducing" Peter Falk, Falk first appeared onscreen in the 1958 film Wind Across the Everglades (See Entry). The picture opens with the following written prologue: "This happened in Brooklyn, the city of churches. The time was the mid-thirties. The story is factual. The people are real." Although the DV and Var review note that film's running time at 103 minutes, the ^NYT review lists a 120 minute running time. According to a Jan 1960 article in Publishers Weekly , Burton Turkus, one of the authors of the book on which the film was based, was the prosecuting attorney in the Murder, Inc. crime syndicate case. The Aug-Sep issue of Films in Review notes that the subplot involving "Joey" and "Eadie" was totally fictional and was added for the film, but the rest of the events were true.
       According to an Aug 1959 DV news item, seven different motion picture producers fought over the rights to the title Murder, Inc. until an arbitration committee of the MPAA finally awarded it to producer Burt Balaban's Princess Production Corp. Although a Feb 1960 DV news item stated that Lee Bowman was considered for the cast and Rocky Graziano was signed, neither appeared in the released film. A HR production chart placed Toni Arden in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Jul 1960 article in Cue stated that location filming was done in the streets, lots, alleys and tenements of Brownsville, NY. A Mar DV news item noted that because of an impending Screen Actors Guild strike, Stuart Rosenburg turned the direction over to Balaban, who then shot around the clock in an effort to finish before the strike began. At that time, Gayne Rescher took over the cinematography from Joe Brun in an effort to speed up filming. The strike lasted from 7 Mar--18 Apr 1960. A Mar 1960 DV news item added that filming was completed in late Mar using non-SAG "doubles" because of the strike.
       Murder, Inc. marked the screen debut of singer Sarah Vaughan. Peter Falk was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as "Reles." The 1975 AmenEuro Pictures Corp. film Lepke , directed by Menahem Golan and starring Tony Curtis and Anjanette Comer, also dealt with the activities of Murder, Inc. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Jul 1960.
---
CUE
2 Jul 1960.
---
Daily Variety
5 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1960.
---
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1960.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jun 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
24 Jun 60
p. 7.
Filmfacts
1960
p. 169.
Films In Review
Aug-Sep 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 60
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 60
pp. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 60
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Jul 60
p. 755.
New York Times
29 Jun 60
p. 26.
Publishers Weekly
11 Jan 1960.
---
Variety
28 Jun 60
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair dresser
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Chief electrician
Chief carpenter
Chief grip
Prod accountant
Prod coordinator
Casting dir
Prod asst
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Murder, Inc. by Burton B. Turkus and Sid Feder (New York, 1951).
SONGS
"The Awakening," "Hey! Mister" and "Fan My Brow," music and lyrics by George Weiss.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 June 1960
Production Date:
mid February--late March 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
28 June 1960
Copyright Number:
LP16728
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
103
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Abe Reles and his accomplice, Bug Workman, two cold-blooded killers from Brooklyn's Brownsville district, go to the Garment District to meet with Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, the smooth kingpin of an organized crime syndicate, who offers them a job as the syndicate's hit men. After hiring them to kill Walter Sage, a Catskill resort owner who has been withholding slot machine profits from the syndicate, Lepke designates Mendy Weiss, his right hand man, as Reles' contact. To get close to Sage, Reles enlists the help of down-and-out singer Joey Collins, an old crony of Sage, who owes Reles money. Coerced by Reles' veiled threats, Joey agrees to accompany Reles to the Catskills, where he draws an unsuspecting Sage out into the street and into Reles' murderous hands. Upon returning to the city, Reles visits Joey at the apartment he shares with his dancer wife Eadie and coldly announces that he will kill them both it they tell anyone about the murder. Aghast, Eadie denounces Reles and throws him out. Later, at a soda shop owned by the portly Rose Gorsi, Lt. William Tobin, a police officer determined to put an end to the reign of terror being waged by the syndicate, arrests Reles and takes him to the station house for questioning. When they arrive, however, Lazlo, Lepke's attorney, is already there with an order for Reles' release. Seething with resentment toward Eadie, Reles returns to the apartment when Joey is gone and brutally rapes her. When Joey returns home, the beaten and disheveled Eadie begs him to run away with her. When he refuses out of fear, Eadie becomes outraged and ... +


Abe Reles and his accomplice, Bug Workman, two cold-blooded killers from Brooklyn's Brownsville district, go to the Garment District to meet with Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, the smooth kingpin of an organized crime syndicate, who offers them a job as the syndicate's hit men. After hiring them to kill Walter Sage, a Catskill resort owner who has been withholding slot machine profits from the syndicate, Lepke designates Mendy Weiss, his right hand man, as Reles' contact. To get close to Sage, Reles enlists the help of down-and-out singer Joey Collins, an old crony of Sage, who owes Reles money. Coerced by Reles' veiled threats, Joey agrees to accompany Reles to the Catskills, where he draws an unsuspecting Sage out into the street and into Reles' murderous hands. Upon returning to the city, Reles visits Joey at the apartment he shares with his dancer wife Eadie and coldly announces that he will kill them both it they tell anyone about the murder. Aghast, Eadie denounces Reles and throws him out. Later, at a soda shop owned by the portly Rose Gorsi, Lt. William Tobin, a police officer determined to put an end to the reign of terror being waged by the syndicate, arrests Reles and takes him to the station house for questioning. When they arrive, however, Lazlo, Lepke's attorney, is already there with an order for Reles' release. Seething with resentment toward Eadie, Reles returns to the apartment when Joey is gone and brutally rapes her. When Joey returns home, the beaten and disheveled Eadie begs him to run away with her. When he refuses out of fear, Eadie becomes outraged and hysterically insists that he leave. Under Lepke's direction, Reles continues his murderous campaign. One day, he appears at the nightclub in which Eadie performs to ask her to reconcile with Joey. Inviting Eadie to meet with Joey, Reles takes her to a luxurious apartment filled with stolen goods and offers it to her and Joey for free. Soon after, when a grand jury impaneled by special prosecutor Thomas Dewey convenes, Lepke decides to hide out from the police at Joey and Eadie's apartment. Once there, Lepke takes control, treating Eadie like a maid and constantly issuing orders to her. Fearful that Joe Rosen, a shop owner he had beaten for failing to pay extortion money, will be called to testify against him, Lepke instructs Mendy to personally kill Rosen. As the New York police department scours the city for Lepke, Albert Anastasia, one of the crime lords, visits Lepke and informs him that the syndicate has voted that he must turn himself in on a reduced charge of interstate commerce crime. Lepke reluctantly consents, but rather than the two-year prison term promised by Albert, is sentenced to thirty years in Leavenworth. After District Attorney Burton Turkus takes over the crusade against Murder, Inc., he enlists Tobin's help in identifying the players. At first cynical about Turkus' ability to withstand political pressure, Tobin eventually agrees to join forces with the district attorney. Lepke, concerned that he can be linked to the Rosen murder, instructs Mendy to put out a contract on the entire Brownsville gang as well as Joey and Eadie. Shell-shocked from her time spent under Lepke's domination, Eadie visits Turkus to recount her life with the killers. Turkus listens in disbelief as she identifies Mendy as Lepke's right-hand man and discloses that the Brownsville Gang served as Lepke's personal killers. After Eadie informs Turkus that Reles is arriving that afternoon on the Baltimore train, Turkus puts her in protective custody and goes to the train station to arrest Reles. Later, as Mendy waits menacingly outside the soda shop to kill Joey, Turkus pulls up and hauls Joey into the police station, shows him photographs of Bugs's murder and warns that he will be next. Upon learning that Reles is in custody, Joey asks to see him. In Reles' cell, Joey announces that Bugs has been killed and then threatens to testify against Reles. Fearing that Joey will incriminate him for murder, Reles agrees to testify against Lepke in exchange for a reduced charge of second degree murder. Over the next six days, Reles furnishes a detailed account of the activities of Murder, Inc., including the fact that Joey overheard Lepke order Rosen's murder. Realizing that Joey's testimony could bring Lepke down, Turkus decides to put Joey and Reles in protective custody and hide them at the Half Moon Hotel in Coney Island. Eadie comes there to beg Joey to cooperate, but Joey, afraid of gang land retaliation against his wife, refuses. In tears, Eadie slips out of the hotel, leaving her guards behind, to stroll along a darkened pier, unaware that she is being followed. Suddenly a man springs from the shadows and strangles her. Later that night, as Reles sleeps, an assassin sneaks into his room and tosses him out the window, then drapes a sheet from the window to make it look like Reles died while trying to escape. Just as Turkus' crusade seems lost, Joey decides to rectify his wife's death by testifying against Lepke, who then is finally made to pay for his crimes in the electric chair. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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