This shallow screen biography of one of the bloodiest killers of the 1920s, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, manages to detail several of his outrageous crimes but fails to throw any light on the man or the system that produced him. Chandler stars as the young gangster who grows up in a home marked
by unhappiness and brutality. At the age of 17 he forms a small neighborhood gang and makes a desperate attempt to muscle his way into the mob. Chandler concentrates his efforts on the Dutch Schultz mob, which controls all of the bootlegging in Harlem. As the months go by, the violence in the gang
war escalates, culminating in a bloody fight on the waterfront in which two children are killed. Dubbed "Mad Dog" by the press, Chandler and his only remaining gang member, Orbach, go into hiding. Now almost completely insane, Chandler kidnaps one of Gardenia's men, who he has come to believe is
his hated dead father. In a rage, Chandler kills the man. Orbach, now realizing the extent of Chandler's insanity, informs the police of his former boss's whereabouts. The cops catch up to Chandler while he is making a phone call in a nearby drugstore and machinegun him to death.
Not only does MAD DOG COLL fail as insightful drama, but most of the "facts," if not distorted beyond recognition, are completely fabricated. After committing several petty crimes with his brother Peter and serving some time in reform school, the real-life Vincent Coll joined the Dutch Schultz mob
as a gunman. After a few months on duty as a brutal enforcer, Coll began suffering from delusions of grandeur and decided he could take over the Dutchman's mob. Several brash moves and some bloodshed later, Shultz retaliated by having Coll's brother Peter shot down in the streets. Going completely
wild, Coll snatched up large sections of Schultz's business and then began invading other mobsters' territories, including those of Owney Madden and Legs Diamond. Coll did kidnap a mob confidante, but it was one of Madden's men (George "Big Frenchy" DeMange), not Schultz's. Coll finally released
the mobster and then repeated the deed on another one of Madden's mobsters a few months later. Schultz finally dispatched three of his best killers to get rid of Coll, but the crazy punk trapped them instead, spraying machine-gun bullets from a passing car. All three men escaped with their lives,
but five children were shot (one was killed). It was this incident that got Coll dubbed "Mad Dog," not a waterfront brawl. Schultz's men caught up with Coll and it was they who machine-gunned him to death in a drugstore phone booth, not the police. In addition to the frustratingly fictitious
script, the film is badly paced and held together with bothersome narration. One interesting aspect of it is that several actors and two crew members went on to bigger and better things. Telly Savalas plays a police lieutenant, Gene Hackman plays a cop, editor Ralph Rosenblum advanced to cutting
such films as A THOUSAND CLOWNS (1965) and ANNIE HALL (1977), and assistant director Ulu Grosbard directed several notable films including STRAIGHT TIME (1978), TRUE CONFESSIONS (1981), and FALLING IN LOVE (1984).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This shallow screen biography of one of the bloodiest killers of the 1920s, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, manages to detail several of his outrageous crimes but fails to throw any light on the man or the system that produced him. Chandler stars as the young gang… (more)