The Steel Jungle (1956) Poster

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Effective Prison Film
gordonl5628 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers

This 1956 Warner Brothers film is an effective prison noir from late in the cycle. Headlining the cast are Perry Lopez, Ted de Corsia, Bev Garland, Leo Gordon, Walter Abel, Ken Tobey and Greg Walcott.

Perry Lopez is a bookie who gets gobbled up by the cops. He figures no problem, as he pays protection to rackets boss, Ted de Corcia. The Police however are not amused with the "Syndicate" and send Lopez up for a year in stir.

Inside he runs into the mob boss, de Corcia. it seems de Corica was the rackets man that Lopez has been paying protection to. He wants de Corcia to help him get early release. His wife, Bev Garland, is up the stump and Lopez wants to be on hand for the birth. De Corica gets a laugh out the new kid and blows him off with a promise to look into it.

Needless to say Lopez gets himself mixed up in a beef. The warden, Walter Abel offers time off if he will rat on the others. Lopez refuses the offer. The other inmates think he has turned rat anyway when given a cushy job. This leads to more violence and the killing of a guard. Trying to help Lopez is Kenneth Tobey, the prison head shrink. Lopez finally helps when De Corsia and his henchman, Leo Gordon set him up to be killed by a guard on the take, Greg Walcott.

Anyways, everything turns out right with Lopez getting out for the birth of his child, while de Corcia, Gordon and Walcott get their just desserts.

Actor Leo Gordon was right at home in prison films, as he had done several years on an armed robbery beef in real life. Director Don Siegel called Gordon the scariest man he ever met, while working with him on, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11.
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An acceptable B picture. Nothing more.
searchanddestroy-17 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I did not know Warner Pictures made B movies in the 50's. Even if this one runs 86mn. A drama or a film noir, as you choose. The tale of a young bookie, married to a beautiful woman - Beverly Garland - who goes to jail, and who is involved with hoodlums - Ted De Corsia and Leo Gordon, the two greatest heavies of the movie industry...

Quite entertaining, fast paced, well shot, sometimes brutal with an exciting climax, it's a worthwhile action movie that deserves to be seen. But unfortunately you can foresee the end, too much predictable for my taste. I don't know the director either. I think it may be a producer. I'll check on IMDb. And you can do so...
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Pretty Good Prison Vehicle For Perry Lopez
lchadbou-326-2659219 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Perry Lopez is one of a number of not so well known actors of Latino ancestry who tried to make a career in old Hollywood, with its prejudices and casting limitations. This fairly conventional prison picture gives him a rare starring role, in which he acquits himself admirably, as a bookie trying to support a wife and a baby she's going to have soon. He thinks "the combination," as they call it in the parlance of the time, will pay off the judge to keep him from going to jail when he's caught, but no dice. The prison scenes are enlivened by the presence of stalwart tough guys Ted De Corsia (as combination honcho ) and Leo Gordon (his enforcer) and by the cinematography of veteran Peverell Marley. There is an interesting scene in which the cops use what they describe as an "identicast" to get the neighbor of Lopez's wife to give a better description of two phony policemen she saw take the wife away from her apartment building. In a somewhat sappy conclusion, all ends well and the Lopez character gets out to see his wife again and their new baby. The writer-director Walter Doniger worked later mostly for TV, there is an excellent,detailed IMDb bio on him by fellow contributor I S Mowis.
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"That killer is as cute as a bug in a rug".
classicsoncall5 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For the life of me I can't figure out what the comment in my summary line was supposed to mean. It was uttered by Warden Keller (Walter Abel) to the prison psychiatrist Dr. Lewy (Kenneth Tobey) while discussing new prisoner Eddie Novak (Perry Lopez). Novak wasn't in for murder so it doesn't make sense. Oh well.

This picture had an early twist that I had to wonder about as well. After getting pinched for bookmaking, Novak is sprung on bail by an attorney for 'The Combination', and he asks for the two hundred fifty dollars that the organization makes available for such occurrences. Seems to me a down on his luck bookie would turn himself in once in a while if things got a little shaky just for the dough. Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way.

Once in the slammer, Eddie approaches Combination kingpin Marlin (Ted de Corsia) with a demand that he get him (Eddie) out of jail. Maybe I'm over-thinking this again, but a gangster bigwig would probably look to get himself out of prison if he could instead of a lower rung bookie. Even in the Big House though, Marlin surrounded himself with a formidable crew of henchmen and it was cool to see Leo Gordon and Bob Steele providing the muscle for their boss. Gordon was good in these kinds of roles, having done time himself for armed robbery once.

Meanwhile on the outside, the cops are investigating the disappearance of Eddie's wife (Beverly Garland) after a couple of Combination goons whisk her away to put pressure on Eddie to remain quiet about the murder of a prison guard. Pushed to the limit, Eddie eventually writes out an admission of what he observed on the night the guard died (another question mark because he arrived on scene after the fact), and hands it over to Dr. Lewy who's bound by doctor/patient confidentiality. On the surface, all of this plays out like a tense cat and mouse game with Marlin pulling strings to get hold of that confession, but all it did was make me wonder why Eddie couldn't have written another note.
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Just remember who your friends are
kapelusznik1810 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
****SPOILERS**** It's when local bookie Ed Novak, Perry Lopez, got busted for taking illegal bets the support he was to get from the mob, by fixing the case and paying off the judge, became non-existent with the book being thrown at him. With his wife Frances, Beverly Garland, expecting or being in the family way Novak will spend his time behind bars not being able to see if first born when he or she's delivered in the hospital maternity ward. While in the state pen Novak meets his boss, convicted of racketeering, Big Sttve Madden,Ted De Corsice, who's planning a break out with Novak, if he goes along with it, being the point-man to pull it off. Seeing just how stupid Madden's plan is Novak refrains from going along with it.

It's later when jail guard Kadinski, Frank Grestle, was killed by a convict hitting him in the head with an empty, after he drank it, whiskey bottle It's Novak who was on the scene of the incident and is being forced to identify or rat Kadinski's killer out who in fact was non other then Steve Madden. Refusing to talk and with Warden Keller, Walter Abled, giving Novak a soft job in the prison library it was rumored that Novak has ratted on Madden and his boys making him the #1 marked man in prison. It's the kindly and understanding prison psychiatrist Dr. Lewy, Kenneth Tobey, who tries to get Novak to realize that Madden & Co. including his #1 goon Lupo, Leo Gordon, are out to kill him no matter when he did or didn't do just for the fun of it. Or better yet to keep the other convicts in line in seeing what happens to a stoolie who opens his mouth on them.

****SPOILERS**** Not wanting to be a snitch and at the same time getting the living sh*t beat out of him by Madden and his boys, in them suspecting him of being one, Novak as a life insurance policy write out all the details behind guard Kadinski's murder in a letter to Dr. Lewy in case he himself is murdered. This leads Madden to pull off a escape plan with only Novak as the pasty set to be shot and killed by crooked jail guard Weaver played by future "Plan Nine from Outher Space" all-American hero Gregory Walcott. With Novak now realizing that he's being set up by Madden he makes a run for it and is shot by Weaver who in return is shot by a running from the law Madden as well. That's when Weaver who with Novak badly wounded, but not dead, chickens out and refuses against Madden's orders to finish him off! When all the dust and smoke is cleared Madden and his gang end up getting everything that they have coming to them and Novak, in listening to his good friend Dr Lewy, ends up getting a full pardon. Now a free man Novak is able to be at the hospital to see his wife Frances give birth to their first child a boy. Whom Novak, now a bit older and a lot wiser, vowing that he'll to it that he'll never follow in his footsteps by working as a bookie for mobsters like Steve Madden.
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