Skip to content

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (1971)

Before the Godfather came along, MGM released this mobster/black comedy featuring a large number of well known actors. The majority of them at the time were just getting started while raspy voiced Lionel Stander had been on the go since the thirties. And as far as raspy voiced characters go this one even adds Jo Van Fleet into the mix.

stander and gang

Following our cartoon credits we find our leading mobster Lionel sending his wife out to his car to start it up. Just in case. Before turning the ignition switch she says a prayer. Meanwhile he’s in the house under the table praying for the opposite effect. That indeed it’ll blow. One way to rid yourself of “the old lady.”

The main thrust of the story is the gang of the title headed by a very young Jerry Orbach. Members include a dubbed Herve Villechaize, Joe Santos of Kojak and a very large hungry lion.

GangShoot

The lion comes in handy when collecting protection money from local store owners. Seeing Villechaize (aka Tattoo on Fantasy Island) trying to stay out of the lions reach is very amusing for obvious reasons.

Orbach and the boys want more power in the underworld and come into conflict with the old boys club led by Stander. Van Fleet stars as Orbach’s overbearing Mother dressed in black, crucifix around her neck and the vocabulary of a sailor. She wants nothing better than to see her boys rise to the top and take out whoever stands in their way.

leigh_tayloryoung

Into the plot comes a very young Robert De Niro as a con artist of sorts who begins to romance Orbach’s younger sister played by beautiful Leigh Taylor-Young. After meeting “the family” De Niro barely gets out of the dinner date with his life. They immediately employ him as a priest to get close to Stander and make their hit.

GANG-SHOOT--3-

Organizing their assassinations, the Orbach gang has lost more men to mishaps then “hits” committed. They’re generally a group of inept goodfellas. Along the way they lose another young actor to a bombing gone wrong. It’s none other than Burt Young.

Eventually local law enforcement begins rousing the gang in hopes of preventing an all out gang war and the movie more or less meanders on to it’s fade out.

This turned out to be a harmless viewing but far from memorable. The enjoyment for me came from the simple things. The obvious jokes involved with a large lion in the gang, Lionel Stander and the cast of up and comers. Along with De Niro and company we also have gangland favorite Michael V. Gazzo, Jack Kehoe and Sesame Street’s own Paul Benedict turning up for a scene or two.

According to trivia I have read, Al Pacino was originally slated to play the De Niro role but had his contract bought out once it was determined that he had won the coveted role of Michael Corleone. Perhaps even more interesting when you realize that De Niro signed on after losing the Corleone role. Still it worked out fine for both in the end.

GANG-SHOOT--1-

I found this James Goldstone directed flick on DVD a while back while rummaging around a second hand store if you feel the need to check out this early appearance by Mr. De Niro and company.

2 Comments »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: