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45 Ratings

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond

Directed by Budd Boetticher
United States, 1960
Crime, History


This ferocious gangster biopic indulges in none of the nostalgia for the Depression or glamorisation of its anti-heroes so prevalent in most such movies. The tone is almost existential: wisely, Boetticher defines his protagonist not through psychology but through action.

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The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond Directed by Budd Boetticher

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1961 | Nominee: Best Costume Design, Black-and-White

Critics reviews

Boetticher’s direction is razor sharp, and often does more with images than with dialogue. In a sequence near the beginning of the film, Diamond witnesses a ‘smash and grab’ jewelry heist that ends in the violent death of the robber… The sequence is entirely wordless, using only natural sound and judicious point-of-view shots that follow Diamond’s eyes as he cases out the jewelry store, devising a plan that he carries out soon after.
June 22, 2017
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A strange, cold, sordid movie about a strange, cold, sordid gangster. In this film noir about the Prohibition era, from 1960, Boetticher presents Diamond as a ruthless, determined go-getter in a glamour-free Mob milieu that runs solely on money. This elemental view of the gunman’s appalling trajectory lays bare its absurdity: Diamond’s daring attempts to force open the doors of criminal power have the gee-whiz wonder of silent-comedy slapstick, but their ends are so amoral as to stifle laughter.
July 13, 2015
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