Hollywood failed to sell the public on 1930s gangster Dutch Schultz with the star-laden, highly-touted disappointments BILLY BATHGATE and THE COTTON CLUB, and this B product makes it three strikes. But the picture is a genuine novelty for other reasons that will be noted. HIT THE
DUTCHMAN tells the same, tired old rise-and-fall gangster story about a Little Caesar who claws his way to the top of the rackets, only to find he's outlived his allies and usefulness.
Petty thief Arthur Flegenheimer (Bruce Nozick) is released from prison and, once back in the Bronx, comes to the attention of local mobster Jack "Legs" Diamond (Will Kempe) as a potential recruit. Thanks to his efficient use of brutality, the former Flegenheimer--he dubbed himself Schultz after
a legendary outlaw of bygone days--becomes Diamond's protege in bootlegging during Prohibition.
Loyalty is not a gangster virtue here, and Dutch first tries to steal Diamond's moll Frances (Jennifer Miller), then his business by hijacking Diamond's beer trucks with best pal Joey Noe (Eddie Bowz). A mob war results, and Joey is killed right after his wedding to Dutch's virginal sister.
Vowing vengeance, Dutch musters enough men and muscle to gun down Diamond. The Dutchman hardly has time to enjoy his status as "Beer Baron of the Bronx" before another bloody feud erupts, now with former cohort Vince "Mad Dog" Coll (Christopher Bradley). Though he wipes out Coll, Schultz's
recklessness marks him as a liability for the Syndicate, and he's executed on orders of Charles "Lucky" Luciano (Len Donato) in 1935.
Too much of this tawdry tale merely repeats typical tough-guy confrontations in which, for instance, Diamond draws his gun on Dutch, Joey Noe draws on Diamond, Coll draws on Joey, Frances draws on Coll, and so on. They finally get down to business, however, and the ridiculous assassination of
Dutch's traitorous lieutenant Bo Weinberg (Matt Servitto) via a plate of exploding spaghetti is worthy of Mel Brooks. Nozick, lean and ferret-faced, has the gangland manner down, even if he doesn't much resemble the pudgy real-life Flegenheimer, while the habitually sexy Sally Kirkland,
deglamorized and frumpy, plays Dutch's old-country mama. Eddie Bowz, as Joey, is the only remotely likeable character.
HIT THE DUTCHMAN was shot in Moscow by Menahem Golan, formerly of Cannon Films. With his own production group, 21st Century, Golan found that the former Soviet capital offered opportunities for period crime dramas on a low (about $4 million) budget. "There are neighborhoods built by Stalin that
greatly resemble Brooklyn in the 1920s," he told Forbes magazine. Well, yes--if old Brooklyn consisted of about three thoroughfares, numerous dark alleys, and a couple of storefronts. The Russians supplied the costumes, catering, and sets (maybe why "Flegenheimer" is misspelled on the sign of one
speakeasy), in a 25-75 deal with Golan.
In the ultimate economizing measure, Golan had a second gangster movie, MAD DOG COLL (alias KILLER INSTINCT) shot at the same time, on the same sets, with nearly the same cast in the same roles. Following the life and times of the infamous Vince Coll, portrayed more sympathetically than he is in
this Dutch Schultz showcase, MAD DOG COLL is also armed with a better script. Watching both stories--which premiered almost simultaneously in the US on home video in 1993--is a strange RASHOMON-type exercise for heavy-duty videophiles. Neither of Golan's bookends had anything to do, by the way,
with the THE OUTFIT, another internationally-backed rehash of the Dutch Schultz-Legs Diamond conflict (with gaunt Lance Henriksen in the Schultz role) that bowed on videocassette the same year. (Violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity, adult situations, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: Hollywood failed to sell the public on 1930s gangster Dutch Schultz with the star-laden, highly-touted disappointments BILLY BATHGATE and THE COTTON CLUB, and this B product makes it three strikes. But the picture is a genuine novelty for other reasons tha… (more)