The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond ★★★½

The roaring twenties roar one last time for Warner Bros., and the stark black-and-white/minimal sets have a credible period ambience. (Budd Boetticher: "At the first day of rushes, here came my producer, and he said, 'Budd, I thought you said that Lucien Ballard, was a good cameraman?' and I said 'Quote me correctly; he's a great cameraman.' He said, 'Well my god, this stuff looks like it's been shot in 1920.' So how you gonna win?") Starts fast, with the camera coolly examining the exterior facade of a jewelry shop, panning up and following the gutter drain, not bothering to explain — we'll see soon enough — that this seeming detour into curiosity about functional architecture is Legs Diamond's own gaze, scoping out the possibility for his next heist. Fantastically high body count in a series of briskly brutal episodes leavened by increasingly little, leading to the inevitable gunned-down ending. "A lot of people loved my husband, but he never loved anybody," says his wife. "That's why he's dead" — a cautionary lesson far more tenable than "Crime Does Not Pay."