MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Gangster Squad’ Captures Wild, Wild West Elements of Los Angeles in the Late 1940s

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
MOVIE REVIEW: 'Gangster Squad' Captures Wild, Wild West Elements of Los Angeles in the Late 1940s

Since I had reviewed “Gangster Squad”, the book that inspired the new neo-noir flick “Gangster Squad,” I was duty bound to see the Ruben Fleischer helmed flick on which it was based. I did so at the Cinemark in Victoria, TX on Friday, Jan. 11. For my review of Paul Lieberman’s “Gangster Squad” click :



I’ve looked at some of the reviews — mixed but mostly negative — and I disagree with the negativity.


Fleischer — aided by a supremely talented cast including Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Jon Polito, Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen, Nick Nolte as Chief William Parker and many others has crafted a solid. workmanlike look at the wild city of the West that Los Angeles was in the late ’40s and early ’50s. It’s as good as “L.A. Confidential,” and not as good as “True Confessions,” a 1981 movie based on the 1947 Black Dahlia/Elizabeth Short murder case, helmed by Uli Grosbard and starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall. With a screenplay by John Gregory Dunne and his wife, novelist Joan Didion, “True Confessions” is a delight to watch. Get a copy from Netflix and see what I mean; it’s on a par with the best of the “Godfather” films.

Right from the start in “Gangster Squad” I noticed an error that I’ve seen in other movies set in the 1940s and early ’50s: Red and white stop signs. As anyone with a few miles on them knows red and white stop signs weren’t introduced until 1954 and after; stop signs of the period were yellow with black lettering. There’s no such problem with the costumes, designed by Mary Zophres who most recently did the costumes for the Coen Brothers’ remake of “True Grit.” The garb of the period was flamboyant and Zophres does an excellent job capturing the essence of post-WWII optimism.


“Gangster Squad” (IMDb is a shoot-em-up flick with ample use of Thompson submachine guns, commonly known as “Tommy Guns”. These weapons fire .45 caliber bullets on semi-auto or full-auto mode. With a screenplay by Will Beall (I noticed Paul Lieberman was listed as a producer), “Gangster Squad” is worth seeing at least once.


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