Baby Face Nelson (1957)

A decade not over-endowed with great movies this has to be one of the most under-rated and underplayed. Don Siegle even stops Rooney from over-acting. No mean feat. The result is a chilling portrayal that has to rate with Rooney’s best. In terms of genre this must rate in the top ten of gangster movies. Why has it never been seen on TV? Good knows they dig deep enough sometimes dredging up the most turgid pap especially for day-time TV. Rooney’s portrayal of the murderous psychopath could possibly only have been bettered by Cagney at his best. The dialogue is suitably hard-nosed and cynical. By the time they get to 1933 and the end of prohibition Rooney (Nelson) takes a drink in their hide-out and a colleague remarks ‘Hey haven’t you heard? It’s legal now’ to which Rooney replies ‘No kiddin. Kinda takes the fun outa drinking it’. Watch it if you get the chance.