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Gangster Story [DVD]

2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Walter Matthau, Carol Grace, Bruce McFarlan, Garrett Wallberg, Raikin Ben-Ari
  • Directors: Walter Matthau
  • Producers: Jonathan Daniels
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Brightspark
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Dec. 2009
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002ST7C66
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 315,924 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Directed by and starring Walter Matthau, this crime drama sees Matthau playing a ruthless gangster trying to muscle in on the territory of rival Earl Dawson (Bruce McFarlan), sparking a gang war between them.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Mario on 17 Jun. 2014
Format: DVD
It has some interest as it is directed by Matthau as a sub B movie effort. It creates a number of moral dilemmas if you feel like seeing it that way. Matthau's character has a brief excuse for massive anti-social behaviour - he was on the beaches of Normandy but this is not explored and we never get any sense that his morality was corrupted by what he experienced there. His librarian-lover is just a cipher - she fancies him; that's all. His gangster godfather is about as frightening as an old bloke down the road. He kills without regret and there are a couple of lines which might hint at a nihilist mindset. However, there are no redeeming characteristics and in the end you feel that apart from the odd witty line and decent performances it is lazy stuff from start to finish,
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. A. M. Williams on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have not watched this film right through as the quality of the film is poor ,it may be down to the original being poor quality,but will just mark it down to experience.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Marvellous 5 Oct. 2006
By blockhed - Published on
Format: DVD
What a story! This is better than The Outlaw, and resembles it in pacing, acting, and plausibility. Eat your heart out, Mr Hughes. The dialogue is brilliant, all of a sudden; and the motivation totally credible. "What do you do? I'm a bank robber. Oh yes. What else? This and that. I own a citrus grove; I'll give you a job. Gee, thanks." This film features the politest gangsters I've ever been privileged to watch. "Take a seat, Earl. Thank you. Care for a cigar? No thank you. You've just saved my life, Jack. Thank you very much." The heists touch imaginative heights unequalled. Eat your heart out, Rififi. The only thing is that Adolf and Jack are a little untidy. After you take your golf bags out of the car boot, fixed them to their trolleys, packed them full of shooting irons, you really should close the boot, or trunk, before trundling off to the green. And missing the putt at half an inch --- 5 times! --- that takes superior golfing skill. I wonder if the Coens ever saw this masterpiece? I also wonder how it could have been made in 1960. Wonders will never cease.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Screen legend Walter Matthau's lone stint in the director's chair... 1 July 2012
By trebe - Published on
Format: DVD
Walter Matthau (1920-2000) appeared in over a hundred films, but his only directorial credit was for the film Gangster Story (1959). Matthau also appears in the crime drama as Jack Martin, a career criminal who escapes from custody, and after single handedly pulling of a daring bank robbery, comes to the attention of crime boss Earl Dawson (Bruce MacFarlane), who offers him a position in his organization. Martin accepts and due to the gang's successful criminal exploits, eventually enters the FBI's 10 most wanted list.

Gangster films were hot during this time, however crime typically does not pay, so things do not end well, in this rather routine affair. A highlight is a rather daring theft at a golf course, and subsequent shootout with the police. Carol Grace, who was married to Matthau from 1959 until his death in 2000, makes her film debut, as a librarian who falls in love with Martin. While no Charley Varrick, Gangster Story might be worth a watch for nostalgia value, if you are a Prime member.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vintage "So bad it's entertaining" 27 July 2013
By Privacy, Please - Published on
I watched this because it's one of only a few movies that Carol Grace (aka Mrs. Walter Matthau, aka Carol Marcus, the former wife of William Saroyan, bosom pal to Gloria Vanderbilt and Truman Capote, model for Holly Golightly, and rags-to-riches stepdaughter of the head of Bendix Corp.) ever appeared in. Carol had a decent acting career on Broadway, and Matthau of course became a megastar and a household name, but you would have never guessed it based on their acting in this movie. It's like Matthau was trying to channel Humphrey Bogart for a guest comedy role on "Get Smart" or "Saturday Night Live".

The scenes between Matthau and his missus when they first meet in a public library and when she announces she's leaving him are so bad, they're funny. As is another scene where Matthau misses an easy golf putt about five times. And don't miss the policeman near the end who actually mouths the word "Bang!" as he shoots someone through a window. I rewound and watched that three times because I just couldn't believe it. The cops and gangsters embody every B-movie cliche of cops and gangsters ever invented, short of having the cops eat donuts on the job. Apparently the production also hired some real local policemen on the cheap to play police in the film, and the whole movie was obviously made on a shoestring budget, with production values about on the level of a vintage "Dragnet" TV episode. Too bad Joe Friday couldn't pop up somewhere, he'd have fit right in.

Best part of the picture is seeing all the shots of retro 1959 interiors (watch for the exact same patterned curtains to pop up in two separate locations in two different scenes) and gorgeous classic vintage cars, full of fins and curves that look great even in black and white - at one point an entire parking lot full of those beauties. I also particularly liked the plant-filled interior lobby of the library, which looked about 20 years ahead of its time. Other than that, this picture is like Matthau, wife and friends decided to make a cheap movie for fun on their days off from real work. Matthau himself reportedly said this was his worst movie ever. Fortunately it only lasts about 68 minutes, and is funny in an MST3K sort of way.

If you need some extra laughs, be sure to check IMDB online for this movie, where you can find a movie poster that appears to have been made up much, much later and features Matthau with 70s long hair 'stache, sideburns and three-piece suit (none of which were in style in 1959) in NYC (the film is set in Southern California) against the WTC Twin Towers (not even built in 1959).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Absolute Rubbish 11 Feb. 2013
By Occam's Razor - Published on
Verified Purchase
This movie was so badly acted I could not get beyond the first 15 minutes.
I would not recommend this to anyone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Directed by Walter Matthau ??? YES - the one and only time. 10 May 2014
By Johnny D - Published on
While the story is pretty basic and predictable - it is still an enjoyable film. This will ring especially true to fans of the genre. I thought it would be fun to see Walter Matthau in a "B" movie and at such a young age. It's a good movie, if your in the mood for a good "Gangster Story".
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