The true story of Arnold Rothstein has yet to be made as a movie, but this will have to suffice until that day dawns. Based on Leo Katcher's The Big Bankroll, this movie bites off more than it can chew, in that Rothstein's life was so full that one movie couldn't do it justice (or
injustice, so to speak). Janssen is the son of devout Jewish parents, blessed with a mind like a computer and cursed with the ambition of a Borgia. A gambler by nature, he soon emerges as top dog in the New York gambling community when he is set up in business by Carson, a criminal politician.
Janssen and Shaughnessy open their own establishment, but Janssen soon gets rid of his partner by bilking him. Next, Janssen marries Foster, a Broadway actress, but he gives her very little of himself and spends most of his nights out with his pals. Janssen hates O'Herlihy, a childhood enemy, who
is now with the police department and on the take. He wants to get even with O'Herlihy on several counts and persuades Rooney, another old friend, to reveal O'Herlihy's history of taking bribes to a local newspaper. Rooney is killed for his efforts and Janssen senses that O'Herlihy was behind the
murder. He enlists attorney Wynn to help investigate the case; and O'Herlihy is tried, convicted, and executed. Janssen's star rises, but his domestic life crumbles as Foster leaves him. He will stop at nothing to get his way and is eventually murdered while playing poker in a hotel room. All his
life, the gambler had never been dealt a royal flush, but that's his final hand when the professional killers gun him down.
What's missing from the movie is Rothstein's alleged involvement in the Black Sox scandal of 1919, as well as several other of his most famous scams. There's no question that Rothstein was a villain, buut he was one of a kind, and, although they do an "A" job for a "B" movie, one wishes there
might have been greater depth in the portrayal. That shallowness was not Janssen's fault. Rooney does the standout performance in a small but effective role.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The true story of Arnold Rothstein has yet to be made as a movie, but this will have to suffice until that day dawns. Based on Leo Katcher's The Big Bankroll, this movie bites off more than it can chew, in that Rothstein's life was so full that one movie c… (more)