He directed this crime film, a gangster movie, a “tabloid” picture. It stars Steve Cochran as gangster Joe Sante and follows his slow rise and inevitable descent in the world of organized crime. The dialogue is terse and hasn’t aged a day since it was written. The music enters the scenes sudden and jazzy. He uses quick, abrupt pans that seem awkward, almost amateur, but add to the roughness of the picture, like it was cut straight from the streets and not molded in the studio.
Tossed aside because it is cheap, I, Mobster stands with any gangster picture, towers over the morality infused coded studio classics Public Enemy and the forced macho of De Palma’s Scarface.
It is filled with countless genuine moments. Here is the dialogue from one of them:
A scene between Joe Sante (Cochran) and his second Frankie (Robert Strauss), written by Steve Fisher
Frankie: He’s ordered you rubbed out
Joe: Usually do it first and talk about it after. How did you find out?
Frankie: I got a reputation for doing everything I’m asked. A man without nerves.
(Joe pulls open the drawer where he keeps his gun)
Joe: That’s you.
Frankie: Maybe that’s why Paul asked me to do it.
(The drawer is empty)
Joe: Even knowing how close we are.
Frankie: Well, the way he explained it is, I step into your spot. He was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to resist.
Joe: Could you?
Frankie: What do you think?
Joe: The only thing I’m sorry about, Frankie, is that it has to be you.
Frankie: What about Teresa?
Joe: Yeah, I’m sorry about that too. Just as I was beginning to find out what I was born for, what it’s all about. But I guess that’s the way it goes. Frankie, see that she gets a decent break, will ya?
Frankie: You know something, Joe? You got me all wrong. Better take care of Paul right away.
(Frankie hands Joe the gun)
Frankie: I’m not going soft. Whichever one dies, I’m in the same spot, number two boy, Mr. Anonymous, that’s good enough for me.