Roger Touhy, Gangster!

  • 1944
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography, Crime

A sloppy crime melodrama which claims to be a factual record of Chicago gangster Roger Touhy, but is nothing more than a weak B picture. Foster's story begins in the Prohibition era with a highly profitable bootlegging enterprise that rivals that of the city's toughest mobster (an unnamed Al Capone). To put a lid on the competition, Foster is framed for...read more

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A sloppy crime melodrama which claims to be a factual record of Chicago gangster Roger Touhy, but is nothing more than a weak B picture. Foster's story begins in the Prohibition era with a highly profitable bootlegging enterprise that rivals that of the city's toughest mobster (an unnamed

Al Capone). To put a lid on the competition, Foster is framed for kidnaping and sent to Stateville with a 199-year sentence. With cohort McLaglen (cast as Basil "The Owl" Banghart, the only other named personality in the film), Foster engineers a prison break only to be captured by the FBI soon

afterward. The film's grand finale has Stateville's warden sternly warning the audience that crime doesn't pay. Grossly straying from the facts, ROGER TOUHY, GANGSTER! makes the mistake of not paying more attention to Touhy's real-life and vastly more interesting career. Touhy, who started as a

wheeler-dealer in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, made his fortune by supplying tavern owners (and city officials) with top quality beer. He quickly drew the attention of Capone, a virtual stranger to the suburbs, who had no idea of Touhy's power--or lack thereof. As it turns out, Touhy wasn't

nearly as "terrible" as his moniker threatened--or as ROGER TOUHY, GANGSTER! claims. Instead of being the hardened criminal Foster portrayed, Touhy was more of a profitable bootlegger with a keen business sense. Framed by Capone (who wanted his territory) on a phony kidnaping charge, Touhy was put

behind bars. Upon his escape, amidst a flurry of news headlines, Fox decided to film his story, originally casting Lloyd Nolan in the lead and Foster as the chief detective. Before shooting began, however, Nolan dropped out and Taylor was chosen to play Touhy. A last-minute decision switched

Taylor and Foster. Meanwhile, Touhy and his lawyers tried to prevent the film from being released because it wrongly portrayed him as "a vicious law violator and gangster." The first version of the film, shown to an audience at Stateville (where some scenes were shot), drew loud and angry protests

from the FBI which insisted that the investigative work was wrongly credited to local police. After reshooting and additional cutting, a final version was released. What ROGER TOUHY, GANGSTER! doesn't tell is what occurred after the film's release. Touhy was recaptured and given another stiff

sentence for "aiding and abetting" in the prison escape. He was finally released in 1959. Three weeks later he was gunned down by a vengeful unknown who literally blew away Touhy's legs with several shotgun blasts.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A sloppy crime melodrama which claims to be a factual record of Chicago gangster Roger Touhy, but is nothing more than a weak B picture. Foster's story begins in the Prohibition era with a highly profitable bootlegging enterprise that rivals that of the ci… (more)

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