What's a stool pigeon, daddy?
Steven Hellerstedt | 11/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Pretty young Joan Woodbury trades in her freedom for the promise of a band of gold when her boyfriend hits and kills someone while driving drunk. After taking the rap for him and serving prison time, she's double-crossed and dumped by the young wastrel, Joan turns to petty crime before coming into possession of documents incriminating her ex-beau and his father. With documents in hand, in short order she becomes a major player in GANGS, INC.
GANGS INC. has almost everything in place to be a minor classic. The relatively unknown Woodbury turns in a strong performance as a basically good woman who can play hard ball with the big (and bad) boys. Veteran tough guy Jack LaRue plays a childhood friend who's around to put the squeeze on the charming. Then unknown Alan Ladd has a fair sized role as an undercover cop who infiltrates Woodbury's crime gang.
The problem lies with Phil Rosen's direction. Rosen seemed to have no feel for dramatic conflict. For a crime thriller GANGS, INC. is surprisingly flat. Woodbury's showdowns with rival gang bosses should bristle with some type of tension, but instead they're about as exciting as a trip to a mortgage broker. About the only times Rosen lays on the heavy strings is during a couple of car chases (when it's too dark to clearly make out what's happening or see the actors' facial expressions) and, bizarrely, when a surprise is sprung during a courtroom scene. Apparently Rosen was more comfortable, and successful, when working on a series of Charlie Chan programmers or light and undemanding fare, such as what's probably his best known movie, the Bela Lugosi/Dead End Kids vehicle SPOOKS RUN WILD.
The transfer print for this Alpha release is a little battered, but acceptable. There are a number of times when the print was spliced, cutting out a few shots, losing some dialogue in the process.
Good Early 40s B-Film Entertainment
Buster49 | Utica, NY | 10/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I found Gangs,Inc. to be a very entertaining film considering its low-budget status. Alan Ladd has a very good pre-stardom role. The feel of the 1940s era (at least in the romanticized minds of those of us not yet born during this period) comes across quite well. Often the package graphics and titles of these films, suggesting a production strength of a major studio, is not the case, but they often have a charm in other ways. The running times are short which keeps many (but not all) of these low-budget screenplays from becoming boring. My Gotham dvd copy of Gangs Inc., though somewhat muddy, is very watchable. Considering its price (as much as a single order of junk food from a fast-food restaurant), this movie is well worth buying especially if you are into the 1940s crime dramas."