The Champ: 711 OCEAN DRIVE (LA)

I love movies full of cutting edge technology that’s 60 years out of date. It makes you realize how quaint and silly all the high tech mumbo jumbo in modern movies will seem 60 years from now. 711 follows a cop on the “Gangster Squad” as he tracks down ambitious, amoral Syndicate boss Mal Granger (Edmond O’Brian.) O’Brian is wonderfully evil in this movie, unrepentant, ruthless and ice-cold. The story is told in flashbacks, from Mal’s humble beginnings as a phone company employee with a knack for electronics all the way to the top of the numbers racket, and of course, swiftly down again. Like I said, 711 full of fascinating gizmos and gadgets. I particularly liked the old man with the microphone in his hearing aid and an antenna in his cane. The story starts in LA and moves through Malibu, Palm Springs and Vegas before climaxing at the Hoover Dam, which makes it a prime example of the big sprawling LA “lion” movie as opposed to the claustrophobic New York “rat” movie. My only real beef is with the title. What gives? Where is 711 Ocean Drive and what does it have to do with this movie? Alas, we may never know.

The Challenger: THE MOB (NY)

MOB is a real writer’s movie. Host Alan Rode pointed out that you can always tell a William Bowers script by the witty, acerbic, and punchy dialog and boy is he ever right. This movie was an absolute pleasure on the ears, just what I needed to wash out all the thees and thous from the night before. Broderick Crawford stars as an undercover cop trying to get next to an elusive mob boss. His performance is pitch perfect, tough-as-nails but still sympathetic. I also loved young Ernest Borgnine as the union heavy.

These are two solid, enjoyable films, but in the end I liked THE MOB just a little bit better, so I’m giving this one to New York.

This is a short entry, since I was over at the LA Times Festival of Books for most of the day today. More on that later…


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