The Dutch Schultz Story
Airdate: December 17th, 1959
Teleplay by Jerome Ross and
Robert C. Dennis
Story by Jerome Ross
Directed by Jerry Hopper
Produced by Sidney Marshall
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Lawrence Dobkin
Featuring Mort Mills, Robert Carricart, David White
“The underworld has always lived by one law, the law of the jungle. The strong clawed their way to power, the weak died in a hail of machine gun bullets. In March of 1935, one of the toughest mobsters in New York City, the man who dominated the underworld at the moment, was Arthur Flegenheimer, better known as Dutch Schultz. During his career, Dutch Schultz and his mob were suspected of having committed over 100 murders. He controlled every racket in New York. He had branched out into liquor, narcotics, later shakedowns, the numbers racket. ”
Eliot Ness plans to go after mobster Dutch Schultz (Lawrence Dobkin), in the same manner he got Capone: income tax evasion. Planting agent Flaherty in Schultz’s numbers operation, the Untouchables soon secure enough evidence to bring him to trial. A change of venue moves the proceedings upstate, where Schultz attempts to buy the town with his money and charm. When that fails, Schultz evades justice by blackmailing one of the jurors.
Returning to New York, Schultz finds his organization under siege from a newly elected city administration bent on reform, and another more deadly enemy: The Charles Lucky Luciano mob. Caught in the crossfire is Floria’s Candy Store, where several of Schultz’s men are ambushed. Still believing he can buy anyone, Schultz tries to strike a deal with Luciano (Robert Carricart), now virtually in control of the New York rackets and prepared to remove Schultz by force. To that end, Luciano buys the loyalty of Schultz’s right-hand man, Lulu, who willingly turns on his old master.
“The law of the jungle: The weak died in a hail of machine gun bullets, the strong stepped up and seized power. And Eliot Ness had it all to do over again. Arthur Flegenheimer, alias Dutch Schultz, died at exactly 8:35. The next day, all over New York City, the number 835-got the heaviest play in the numbers racket. It was a loser, too.”
Eliot Ness loses again, but Schultz, like Vincent Coll, is disposed by competing interests, turning the loss into a victory of sorts. But there are more things wrong with this hour than right.
Overall, The Dutch Schultz Story is one of the more corny editions weighed down by a weak script, indifferent direction and dated acting by very nearly everyone. A big-time, big-name scofflaw like Arthur Flegenheimer should have warranted a much more colorful, rip-and-tear sort of story. Instead, Ness and Flaherty play up the income tax bit again, an angle quickly becoming the federal equivalent of ring-the-doorbell-and-run, only to lose the case through some highly dubious juror tampering involving Schultz’s unsuspecting and quite normal wife, which compromises the virtue of the jury foreman’s schoolmarm niece.
Much of the drama is awkward, the action if not downright clumsy. When Luciano invades Schultz’s territory, as represented by Florio’s Candy Store, a couple of Schultz’s men simply stand with guns drawn allowing a fellow with a chopper to burst in and stitch them to the wall. In the scene, Florio’s elderly wife is gunned down along with Schultz’s men. Blinded earlier by an acid attack, Florio hears the gunfire and stumbles into the storefront and over his wife’s body. What should have been a horrific and touching moment, is defeated by the badly staged attack.
What does Schultz in at the end is Luciano. Robert Carricart’s colorful Lucky is rendered funny with highly stereotypical Italian utterances like “Mama Mia!,” and “He’s a gotta go.” The struggle between Schultz and Luciano and a more thoughtful connection with Mayor LaGuardia and his reform campaign would have made for a more interesting, if not action-filled program.
• Corny episode aside, the Winchell narrations are great.
• It’s always fun when the Untouchables are re-introduced, this time emphasizing Jerry Paris’ Untouchable Martin Flaherty who takes more a more central role in the episode. From a television writing perspective, it’s likely that this was done to help familiarize new viewers.
• As a technical footnote, a raid on Schultz’s headquarters involves a brief shooting spree that is remarkable for no other reason than the sound effects. What is heard on the sound track is the actual noise of the blanks being fired on the set instead of the familiar high-fidelity roar dubbed in for gunfire during post-production with often clever and interesting results.
• Schultz’s discovery that Flaherty is a federal man is written in an incredibly lazy way as Flaherty walks into Ness’ room while Schultz is in the middle of a bribery attempt. Ness and Flaherty both joke it off, which doesn’t help matters.
• Speaking roles for African Americans are largely absent from the entire series and of considerable interest is an uncredited cameo appearance by Amanda Randolph as a character simply named Madame. Randolph’s most celebrated role was the flamboyant, domineering Mama, nearly a decade earlier in the hilarious and controversial Amos ‘n Andy Show, the only other weekly series to invite as much bad press as The Untouchables. Another actor from Amos ‘n’ Andy will appear later, in another uncredited walk-on in The Nero Rankin Story.
• The compromising photos of the teacher and the implied date rape are extremely risky given the time period, it’s a wonder it survived the censors.
• The real Schultz was, in fact, taken out of service in Newark, New Jersey, at a place called the Palace Chop House in 1935, by the Luciano mob. His final words, recited verbatim in the episode, included utterances like “A boy has never wept… nor dashed a thousand kin.“