Parolee Jackie Blake arrives at the Collins house, fresh out of Jail. Alex Collins had asked him to check on his mother and brother. Ralph Collins — a major gin-swilling, t-shirted meathead — doesn’t seem too excited to see him, but Mrs. Collins warmly invites him in.
While chowing down on Mrs. Collins’ meatloaf, he says he didn’t know anything about his crime — he was just there to drive the car.
Pretty soon, he is calling her “Ma”.
Preparing for his first day of work at a garage, Mrs. Collins brings him breakfast. Jackie only has time for the coffee, but Ralph scarfs down the rest while mocking the small wage Jackie will be making. It not clear that Ralph makes any wage at all.
Jackie’s parole officer stops by the garage. The insurance company thinks Jackie knows where the $150,000 is from the bank robbery. Apparently the local mob thinks so too as they pay him a visit.
That night, he can barely make it up the stairs, having taken quite a beating. But, really how bad could it have been when the leader was Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo?
The next day, the parole officer stops by the house. Turns out a parolee can’t stay with the family of another prisoner — although living in a building full of murderers and thieves for 5 years is is considered non-corrupting. Mrs. Collins talks the parole officer into bending the rules.
When Jackie gets home from work, Ralph is drunk. He starts bullying Jackie, demanding a cut of the money. He is one of those bullies that also likes to get a little too close, touching his victim’s face, putting his arm around him. Just very touchy-feely creepiness. With a few drinks in him, he admits sending the thugs that beat him up.
Jackie pulls a kitchen knife. After some rough-housing, Ralph is stabbed and dies. At that second Mrs. Collins comes in. Jackie begs her not to tell anyone, to let him be Ralph’s replacement as her son.
All the ingredients are here. Ma seems nice and motherly, Ralph is immediately hateable, the twist completely suckered me in, there is some great staging and composition in the shots.
For some reason, it just did not come together for me, though. I rate it Heart of Chalcopyrite. It’s not fair, but it might be because Ralph was just such a loathsome character.
- AHP Deathwatch: 3 survivors — possibly a record.
- Strange that Jackie seemed to be the go-to name for small-time hoods in the 50’s.
- Neil Young’s Heart of Gold.