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Deuces Wild Deuces Wild

The late 50's drama Deuces Wild has been sitting on the shelf for over a year and that usually isn't good news.  Even with the auspices of Martin Scorsese as executive producer and a talented, mostly young cast, this increasingly violent and chaotic film folds on a promising hand at the start.

The big opening and closing scenes take place on the front steps of the building where Leon (Stephen Dorff) and Bobby (Brad Renfro), his younger brother, live.  It is 1955 at Brooklyn's Sunset Park at 6th Avenue where the sight of a dead brother (Allie Boy) turns a mother (Nancy Cassaro) into depression and booze.  But it also marks the beginning of a new gang led by Leon to protect their own and keep "junk" off their turf like the "hot-shot" that did in his brother.

Just because Leon heads a gang doesn't mean he's not religious as he's seen doing penance for Father Alb, played avuncularly by Vincent Pastore.  Renfro's Bobby has loyalty for the Deuces but is a little nutty when he acts rough and tough on a turf encroacher who happens to be someone's deft brother.

The hackneyed screenplay places the vicious Vendetti (Norman Reedus) in the company of mafioso type Fritzi, acted with some presence but little emotion by Matt Dillon, who grew up on gang films that resonated with feeling.

There's the younger Scooch, a youthful Frankie Muniz (Big Fat Liar), interested in being a member of the Deuces.  Family life in Deuces Wild is dreary as Scooch is hit by his lush dad after asking for money.  And the biggest floozy of them all is Deborah Harry's mother to Annie and Jimmy who loves to play Christmas carols during a sweltering summer.  A decent actress known as Blonde's lead singer is just along to stare and collect a paycheck.

Leon and Bobby have their more vulnerable, romantic sides as they work on their relationships with blonde looker Betsy (Drea de Matteo) and an alluring Annie who finds the younger brother not as dense as his gang mentality first makes him out to be.  But the threats and beatings take their toll on the women.

Director Scott Kalvert pretentiously goes for close-ups in a heated pool scene and slow-motion shots during much of the bloody mayhem that leaves Deuces Wild sloppy and unpersuasive even in the shocking aftermath of a punishing sequence at a boatyard.

Hopefully, on the horizon, Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York looks to be more involving than the atmosphere of tumultuous Sunset Park when Elvis and Buddy Holly ruled the charts.

Deuces Wild

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