I, Mobster


1h 22m 1959

Brief Synopsis

Joe Sante wants to be the big man, and nobody is going stand in his way. In a world full of smoke, molls, shakedowns, muscle, and murder, Joe knows what he wants and how to get it. But can he disregard his poor old immigrant parents who are ashamed of his criminal life? Will he drag his sweet girlfriend into the life of the underworld? And most importantly, can Joe trust his mobster friends?

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Alco Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel I Mobster by Joseph Hilton Smyth (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

When Joe Sante, the head of a national crime syndicate, is subpoenaed to testify by the Senate Rackets Committee in Washington, he invokes his Fifth Amendment rights. As the senators continue to interrogate Joe, his mind drifts back to the start of his life in crime, when he was an eleven year old collecting bets for Black Frankie Udino, the neighborhood syndicate boss: Joe gets into a fight with Cherry-Nose, one of the local punks, and comes home with his nose bloodied, causing his mother concern. Joe has contempt for his immigrant father, whom he resents for being unable to support the family, and consequently vows that he will be "top man one day." Joe grows up quickly, and one day after he steals a cargo of drugs, Frankie offers him a job in "collections." Claiming that he has a lucrative job delivering medicine, Joe buys his beloved mother a set of new furniture. At a street party one night, Joe meets Teresa Porter, a neighborhood girl, and asks her to dance. When Joe roughly grabs her, Teresa protests that she is a "good girl" and pulls away, and Joe apologizes for his crude behavior. Later, the police come to the party to arrest Joe. After Joe is sentenced to a year in prison, Frankie promises to support his mother during his absence. Upon his release, Frankie sends for Joe and hands him the cash that Mrs. Sante has refused. When Joe demands more money and a bigger cut, Frankie tests his loyalty by ordering him to kill Cherry-Nose's brother. During his mother's welcome home party, Joe excuses himself to go to his room, sneaks out the back window and guns down his victim. When Joe slips back into his room, Teresa's younger brother Ernie sees him stash his gun in a dresser drawer. Thus having proved himself, Joe organizes his own gang and soon reaches the status held by Frankie. At a swank party, Joe is welcomed by syndicate head Paul Moran. Moving from collections to strike breaking, Joe is installed in the same offices as Frankie, which he redecorates to give them "class." One day, Joe is visited by Teresa, who tells him that his mother would like him to come home and make peace with his gravely ill father before the old man dies. When Teresa asks if Joe killed a man on the night of the party, Joe reacts with hostility. Dubbing himself a "labor relations expert," Joe launches a cross country campaign of terror against union workers, brutalizing those who refuse to pay protection money. After his father dies, Joe offers to move his grieving mother uptown, but she remains loyal to her husband's memories and accuses Joe of feeling no pity or love for anyone. At the gathering following the funeral, Joe learns that Teresa's family is destitute and offers Ernie a job, although he detests the boy. After Joe ascends to Moran's level, thus surpassing Frankie's power, Teresa comes to his apartment to beg for a job as a bookkeeper because her mother is bedridden, her family hungry. When Joe learns that Ernie has spent his earnings on drugs, Joe and Frankie soundly thrash the boy for failing to respect his mother. After becoming Joe's bookkeeper, Teresa learns that all his mother's friends are on his "charity list," thus proving that Joe has an altruistic side. One night, Ernie comes to Joe's office and tells him that he has made copies of Teresa's books and will turn them over to Cherry-Nose to give to the police unless Joe pays him extortion money. When Joe reminds Ernie that this would implicate Teresa in his criminal organization, Ernie shrugs indifferently and Joe, furious, slaps him. Just as Ernie pulls his gun, Teresa enters the office and begins to struggle with her brother. In the ensuing chaos, Joe shoots Ernie, and after her brother falls to the floor, dead, Teresa flees the office. After Cherry-Nose informs the police that Teresa was an eyewitness to her brother's mysterious disappearance, she is questioned by the district attorney. When Teresa swears that Ernie left Joe's office alive, the district attorney knows she is lying but releases her because she would prove a more credible witness at trial than Cherry-Nose. Later, Teresa appears at Joe's apartment door, dressed in a provocative low-cut dress, and confesses that she is in love with him. When Joe protests that he does not want to turn her into a gangster's moll, Teresa passionately kisses him. One night, Frankie warns Joe that Moran has authorized him to kill Joe. Uncertain about whether Frankie has accepted the assignment, Joe anxiously fingers his gun until Frankie hands over his own weapon and advises him to take care of Moran. After Joe shoots Moran in the back, Cherry-Nose exposes him as the new crime boss. As Joe is handed a subpoena, his mother appears at his apartment to denounce him as godless. After Joe's thoughts return to the present, the hearing is adjourned for the weekend. Knowing that he is about to be indicted, Joe accepts a pair of fake passports from Frankie so that he and Teresa can flee the country. After Frankie agrees to see them off at the pier that evening, Joe arranges a convoy to escort them to the docks. As they climb into a cab, however, Joe notices that the convoy has dropped out and that Cherry-Nose is tailing them. Near the docks, Joe jumps out of the cab and is chased by his pursuers. In the ensuing gunfire, Joe kills his assailants but is hit by a bullet. Teresa takes the wounded Joe back to his apartment, where Frankie is waiting. As Joe realizes that Frankie has set him up, Frankie matter-of-factly states that Joe has become a threat to the syndicate, and then icily guns him down.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Alco Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel I Mobster by Joseph Hilton Smyth (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's title card reads: "Edward L. Alperson presents I, Mobster ...The Life of a Gangster." The opening cast credits appear in a different order from the closing credits. Although the Variety review lists the character played by Grant Withers as "Joe Moran," he is called "Paul Moran" in the film. Although a May 1958 Daily Variety news item states that the novel Mobster was written by an anonymous author, the film and copyright credits list the author as Joseph Hilton Smyth.
       Lili St. Cyr was a well-known striptease dancer whose "bubble bath" act, in which she emerged from a bath tub nude, is incorporated into the film. The camera cuts away from her nude body to the reaction of the audience. Modern sources add Dick Miller, Frank Wolff, Walter Maslow and Dave Tomack to the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959