The 100 Dollar Gang (1965)

AKA: Night Of Murder In Manhattan
Director: Harald Philipp
Starring: George Nader, Heinz Weiss, Richard Munch, Monika Grimm, Sidney Solar
Music: Peter Thomas

One of the confusing things about Eurospy films is that they go by many different titles. This particular film appears to be more popularly known to English speaking audiences as Night Of Murder In Manhattan (or Manhattan Night of Murder), but I am calling it The 100 Dollar Gang because that is the name that popped up in the titles on my screen as I was watching the film. The reason I do this is quite simply — so you know what version I am reviewing. With the various different titles, Eurospy films can have different audio dubs and editing too. On several occasions I have looked at my trusty copy of The Eurospy Guide and have been confused at Matt or David’s take on a particular film. However they are not wrong — they are simply looking at a very different copy of the film to me. Equally, when you read one of my reviews for a Eurospy flick you may think I am off beam.

Having said all that, I do not think that there is too much difference between the versions for this, the second of the Jerry Cotton movies starring George Nader. I just wanted to clarify why I am calling this film a different name to other reviewers.

Now I haven’t seen all of the Jerry Cotton films — I have seen six of the eight — and I’d have to say I have enjoyed them all, and The 100 Dollar Gang is no exception, but it is possibly the weakest film in the series I have seen so far. At times it almost seems like a documentary about the FBI. There is endless footage, on several occasions through this film of FBI headquarters and nameless characters going through there mundane (although incredibly important) work. There are rows of computer banks and reams of continuous fed computer paper and there are specialists looking through microscopes. It’s all meant to look hi-tech — and I guess it was in 1965 — but with today’s advances it all looks hokey. But even back in 1965, filler footage was filler footage. This is padding and it slows the story down, just when you want it to get cracking.

The villains in this film are a gang of protection racketeers called ‘The 100 Dollar Gang’, because they shake down the local shop owners for $100 a month. As the film opens an old man is closing up his shop. With him is his grandson Billy (Uwe Reichmeister). As the old man goes to lock up, a racketeer comes in and demands money. The old man tries to hold out and gets slapped around for his trouble. Finally he pays up and the racketeer leaves — but he has a shadow, in the form of Billy who follows the gang member.

Next stop for the racketeer is a petrol station. He shakes down the owner, Sally (Monika Grimm) for $100. Next the racketeer moves onto a restaurant called Guiseppe’s. The owner, Guiseppe (naturally), refuses to pay. In fact he forcibly throws the racketeer out. But, as you may guess, the racketeer returns with a gang of thugs. Billy who has been following and watching is standing outside the window. He sees the goons trash the restaurant and then as Guiseppe tries to call the police, somebody pull a gun and shots him. The only witness is Billy, and soon he is the target of The 100 Dollar Gang.

The FBI are called in to investigate, and their two best men are assigned to the case — Jerry Cotton (George Nader) and Phil Dekker (Heinz Weiss). One thing I love about the Cotton films is that Jerry usually has to perform some ridiculous stunt to get out of trouble — accompanied to Peter Thomas’ rousing theme. In The 100 Dollar Gang, the stunts aren’t too vigorous. But none-the-less the film has a few pleasing action scenes. The first is a foot chase through an industrial site, which culminates in a dangling rescue attempt, performed by Jerry, for a perp who has fallen into a coal pit. Later, Jerry crawls around on the outside ledge of a delapidated factory, while inside a bomb awaits behind a door. Next there’s a brutal rampage in a supermarket storeroom. And finally there’s a car chase where, Jerry in his red Jaguar chases the villains in a white Stingray.

Ultimately I enjoy the Jerry Cotton films, but this appears to be one of the weaker ones and while it is pleasant enough, it doesn’t quite have the weight of some of the other films. Even though it only runs 90 minutes, it could have done with some trimming to tighten up the story.

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