The George Raft Story (1961)
George Raft was famous for turning down film roles that would go on to be hits for other stars. An explanation of sorts given in this biopic is that he didn’t want to be typecast, and was hesitant to play any more gangster roles. He is even depicted holding up production of a movie because he refuses to say a line that he considers too corny. He surely would have had a hard time in a film such as this.
The first thirty minutes of this jokey biopic resembles a revue, where Raft’s story comes second to song, dance and comedy routines. All of this plays against a backdrop of gangsters, casinos and rum-running, with Raft himself in the thick of it. But by his own admission, and judging by Ray Danton’s moves, Raft was more of a dancer than a fighter, and thus heads to Hollywood when things get too dangerous.
The change of location only ramps up the film’s whimsical tone. Jayne Mansfield, in a role reportedly based on Betty Grable, seems to be in permanent danger of toppling over such is the dual effect of her tight skirts and large bust. A meeting between Raft and Al Capone is played for laughs, and even Frank Gorshin can’t resist an impersonation, despite portraying a gangster.
All this makes for a mildly entertaining movie which doesn’t take itself too seriously, in much the same manner one suspects as the film’s subject.
George Raft was married from 1923 till 1970, yet his wife does not rate a mention in this film.
The real-life inspiration for fictional character Lisa Lang is Betty Grable.
The real-life inspiration for fictional character Moxie Cusack is Mack Gray.
Biopic contains a couple of scene recreations, including a dance sequence from Bolero and his death scene in Scarface.