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The Hoodlum

The Hoodlum(1951)

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Incorrigible criminal Vincent Lubeck comes up for parole after serving five years for bank robbery in the state penitentiary. Although the warden believes that Vincent is an unrepentant "hoodlum," Vincent's naive and loyal mother defends her son when the Parole Board convenes to review his case. Vincent is released and returns home with his mother. While Vincent was in jail, his brother Johnny started Lubeck's Service gas station and bought a home for the family, using the insurance money from their father's death. Mrs. Lubeck is proud of the new home, which she boasts is a great improvement over the shack near the city dump in which the boys grew up. Refusing to compliment his brother's hard work, Vincent bitterly remarks that "dough is the only thing that will cover up the stink of the city dump." As part of his parole requirements, Vincent must work at the station, which Johnny has agreed to as a favor to his mother. Vincent resents the job, but Johnny's sweet girl friend Rosa tries to mend the family problems by asking Johnny to give Vincent a chance. In the days that follow, Vincent performs poorly and lacks the initiative to become a mechanic. He wants easy money and when Eileen, a cosmopolitan secretary who works at the bank across the street, brings her luxurious car in for repairs, Vincent begins a flirtation to acquire information about the bank's activities. Soon after, Lieut. Burdick, who was responsible for Vincent's capture five years ago, harasses Vincent at the station, causing Vincent to vent his frustration by pouring gasoline on the car of a demanding customer. At home that evening, Johnny is furious and voices his fear that Vincent's behavior will cause the business to fail. After Vincent stalks off, Rosa finds him sulking on the roof. When she suggests that he accept his brother's help, Vincent rants about cops set on jailing him and then, determined to destroy everything Johnny cares about, viciously grabs Rosa and forces her to kiss him. She frantically loosens his grip and runs downstairs. Within days, Vincent learns from Eileen the bank's schedule for federal reserve deposits and then convinces his friend, ex-convict Marty Connell, to rob the bank with him. Later at the station, Rosa, drawn to his dangerous character, offers her love to Vincent and an affair ensues. One evening months later, Vincent returns to the Lubeck home after a date with Eileen, and finds Rosa outside waiting for him. When she entreats Vincent to marry her, he cruelly tells her to return to Johnny. Distraught, Rosa climbs to roof and jumps to her death. When the autopsy report reveals that Rosa was two months pregnant, Mrs. Lubeck blames Vincent for the trouble in the home. Days later Vincent meets with his five accomplices, including Marty, Christie and Eddie, to plan the robbery. Vincent has found an unidentified dead man, and orders Christie to act as Mrs. Vanguard, the man's niece, and Eddie as her attorney. Marty and the two other men will pose as a surveyor, a passing business man and a fruit cart vendor and stand guard outside the bank to make the armored truck holdup. Christie and Eddie identify the body at the city morgue as her uncle, John Vanguard, and then go to the Brechenridge Mortuary, near Lubeck's Service, to arrange for the internment at the exact time of the robbery, planning to use the funeral procession as cover to escape the neighborhood after the robbery. On the day of the hold up, Vincent is scheduled to work the station alone but Johnny appears and, suspicious of Marty loitering outside the bank, attempts to call the police, but Vincent hits him over the head with the butt of his gun. Meanwhile outside, three bank guards are loading bags of money into the armored truck, when Vincent and his accomplices shoot and wound the guards. After they load up the money into their car, the criminals speed away to an alley and transfer to a large stately black car, quickly pulling in behind the funeral procession. Burdick immediately orders a manhunt and cordons off the neighborhood. At the scene of the crime, Burdick learns that a funeral procession from Brechenridge Mortuary has driven out of the neighborhood. Noticing the proximity of the mortuary, he questions its director and finds several clues that point to the crime. Meanwhile, after the criminals are safely outside the neighborhood, an argument ensues between Vincent and his accomplices over how to divide the proceeds. The accomplices decide to overpower Vincent, take the money and flee. Over the next few days, all Vincent's accomplices are either killed or captured and Vincent, now desperate, returns to the scene of the crime. When Burdick and another officer stop to investigate suspicious movement at the station, Vincent steals their car and drives to the family home. His mother, on her deathbed, sickened by disappointment in her son, laments that he should have repented long ago and dies. Johnny suddenly appears from behind a door, and after forcing Vincent into a car, drives him at gunpoint to the city dump to kill him. Once they arrive, Johnny loses heart and Vincent escapes. However, Burdick is waiting in the shadows, and shoots and kills Vincent as he scrambles over the piles of garbage.