Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mickey Rooney in BABY FACE NELSON (1957)

Baby Face Nelson is a 1957 crime film noir based on the real-life 1930s gangster, directed by Don Siegel, co-written by Daniel Mainwaring—who also wrote Siegel's 1956 sci-fi thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers—and starring Mickey Rooney as Baby Face Nelson, and featuring Leo Gordon as John Dillinger and Carolyn Jones as Nelson's wife Sue.

Critical response

When the film was released film critic Bosley Crowther panned the film writing, "Baby Face Nelson, heading the double bill on the Loew's circuit, is a thoroughly standard, pointless and even old-fashioned gangster picture, the kind that began going out along with the oldtime sedans. As a matter of fact, one of the few absorbing sights in this United Artists release, starring Mickey Rooney, is a continual procession of vintage jaloppys, chugging in and out of the proceedings ... The other distinction, also mild, is Sir Cedric Hardwicke's professional portrait of a seedy, lecherous and alcoholic physician who consorts with criminals."

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote a somewhat positive review of the film, writing, "Don Siegel's (Charley Varrick/Riot in Cell Block 11/Dirty Harry) raw and twitchy gangster biopic about a thirties public enemy Number No. 1 is typical bang-bang stuff but is fluidly shot. This low-budget crime story was made in 17 days and is an ugly portrayal of a violent self-destructive sociopath; it's a revisionist and fragmentary presentation of Lester Gillis, known as Baby Face Nelson (Mickey Rooney). Rooney's flowery performance as the trigger-happy hood with the inferiority complex over being short and the wall-to-wall action, give this Prohibition-era set B-film its pulse."


Mickey Rooney as Lester M. 'Baby Face Nelson' Gillis
Carolyn Jones as Sue
Cedric Hardwicke as Doc Saunders
Leo Gordon as John Dillinger
Anthony Caruso as John Hamilton
Jack Elam as Fatso Nagel
John Hoyt as Samuel Parker
Ted de Corsia as Rocca
Elisha Cook, Jr. as Homer van Meter

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