This hard-edged sociological crime thriller drives home its point with brute force. Sullivan and Blake are antagonists in Prohibitionera Detroit. Sullivan is a police officer who has had enough of juvenile delinquents; Blake is a hard-as-nails punk with no regard for the law. Their
rivalry starts when a young social worker, Lawrence, advocates psychiatric treatment for delinquents. The police don't like Lawrence's suggestion because they are convinced that only a stiff prison sentence will do the trick, while the delinquents don't like the implication that they need a
shrink. The upshot is that Lawrence is raped and murdered by the teens. So much for social reform. Sullivan gets assigned to the case, but finds that his hands are tied by rules and regulations that forbid him from arresting the guilty teens without adequate proof. The main offender is Blake, a
mean little runt who not only threatens the social order but the local Mafia as well, tearing up their turf with tommy-gun fire. Gradually Blake moves up in the ranks of the gangster world. To get Sullivan off his back, Blake has the officer's pregnant wife, Edwards, pushed to her death from a
window. Instead of backing off, Sullivan strengthens his attack and finally gets Blake behind bars.
A brutal expose of criminal life, THE PURPLE GANG is made realistic by Carter's gritty photography and the intercutting of newsreel footage from the Prohibition era. Taking its inspiration from the real-life Purple Gang, which plagued Detroit throughout the Prohibition days and was responsible for
hundreds of bootleg-related killings, the film pays little attention to the facts that surrounded the rise of these thugs. Director McDonald is more concerned with stating his opinions on how criminals should be dealt with than in dealing with the criminals themselves. What results is little more
than a standard drama about an angry cop determined to topple a gangster. THE PURPLE GANG's main selling point, however, is its semi-documentary atmosphere, setting it apart from the usual glamorous treatments of criminals. Appearing in the film's prolog and vouching for the film's authenticity is
Congressman James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This hard-edged sociological crime thriller drives home its point with brute force. Sullivan and Blake are antagonists in Prohibitionera Detroit. Sullivan is a police officer who has had enough of juvenile delinquents; Blake is a hard-as-nails punk with no… (more)