A good picture is a good picture anytime in the calendar year, so the Vintage Hollywood of bygone decades wasn’t overly season-conscious when it released movies. What if Going My Way (1944) opened in May, Miracle on 34th Street (1947) was released in June, Christmas in Connecticut (1945) spread snowflakes of cheer in August or White Christmas (1954) landed just after Columbus Day? Appreciative audiences didn’t mind one bit.
Indeed, when producer-director Roger Corman’s rat-a-rat fact-plus-informed-conjecture-based telling of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), starring Jason Robards as Al Capone, Ralph Meeker as Bugs Moran and George Segal as Moran operative Peter Gusenberg, opened 51 years ago on this date in New York, one of the few who minded was the veteran film critic of The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, who disliked the entire affair, filmed in Hollywood but set in a cleverly recreated 1920s Chicago, and considered in print the following day that “the only theatrical value and commercial purpose of this luridly publicized picture…appear to me to be the callous horror and the morbid fascination of the terminal scene, in which those seven members of the Moran gang are trapped and mowed down by Capone’s machine-gunners in a North Side garage. For those who like blood and twitching bodies, there is plenty of that in this scene.” On the other hand, Corman was rather pleased with this singular “major-studio” production in his long career, as he asserts in his Trailers for Hell commentary for the movie’s 1967 coming attraction preview available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03Hky_Iun8E. (Nine years later, Corman would produce and Massacre screenwriter Howard Browne would reunite to depict the Mob kingpin’s life and legacy in Capone (1975), starring Ben Gazzara.) Crowther’s aversion to gangster-driven screen violence would have a jolting effect on his own career starting just 18 days later, when his appraisal of another period piece appeared under the headline-subhead combination of Screen: ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Arrives, Careers of Murderers Pictured as Farce.Talk about your celluloid bloodbaths. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, featuring more reminiscences from Corman in an interview featurette, targets action junkies, criminal history buffs and everyone in between on Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray, offered here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/28535/THE-ST-VALENTINES-DAY-MASSACRE-1967/.