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    Mass Mobsterism

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    One of Fall 2015’s most highly awaited movies blasts into theatres today. Black Mass stars Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, the brazen Boston mob boss whose unholy alliance with the FBI as a confidential informant fueled his rise to the top of the criminal underworld. Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace), it follows in the Warner Bros. tradition of star-studded gangster epics of the past 85 years. Will it stoke a revival of more gritty gangster action epics? Box-office results will tell, but those who want a film-fueled fix of vicious malefactors can build their own movie marathon out of six dazzling Twilight Time hi-def Blu-rays of charismatic felons plying their illegal trade to complement the magnum impact of Black Mass. From director Roger Corman, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) recreates fabled kingpin Al Capone’s rise to power that culminates in the infamous title event, starring Jason Robards, George Segal and Ralph Meeker. Violent Saturday (1955), from director Richard Fleischer, follows a ruthless gang of bank robbers impacting the residents of a quiet Arizona desert burg with brute force, ensnaring Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and a distinctive supporting cast in the flashpoint havoc. Also from 1955, tough-guy director Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo plants a criminal gang of ex-GIs operating in a gorgeously scenic post-World War II Tokyo, where mastermind Robert Ryan, henchman Cameron Mitchell and lawman-infiltrator Robert Stack play out a deadly game of crime and inevitable punishment. Sean Penn, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman are key players in director Phil Joanou’s State of Grace (1990), a spellbinding riff on the Irish Westies gang in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. And rural Pennsylvania erupts with ferocious bloodletting fury in director James Foley’s At Close Range (1986), inspired by the true tale of a heartless gangleader father (Christoper Walken) who draws his adoring son (Sean Penn) down a dark road. And the British get into the action with director Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast (2000), a “one-final-heist” reunion of louche lowlifes played by the likes of Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. These six trigger-happy movie greats will ensure a black mass of adrenaline-pumping thrills as only 1080p Blu-ray can deliver. In 2016, look for Fritz Lang’s scalding The Big Heat (1953), starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin, to return to TT’s larcenous lineup following its initial sellout run.