The Garment Jungle (1957): Gia Scala’s Picture

The Garment Jungle (1957)

The Garment Jungle, a contemporary expose of New York garment employers’ use of racketeers to keep unions out, disappoints. Finished by director Vincent Sherman after Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly) left production towards the end of shooting, for a Columbia a-feature it is largely set-bound, and suffers for it.

The whole affair sags and ends with a weak resolution. Lee J. Cobb in the lead is sadly flat.  Robert Loggia as an Italo-American union organiser is strong and the performance of the tragic Gia Scala as his young wife dominates the picture.  She is palpably alive on the screen and thoroughly immersed in her role. The sequence where she is introduced is the film’s highlight. Shot at a union dancing-class on a steamy-night where the dance music is a dissonant counterpoint to the drama, she is by turns sensual, fiery, gentle, and despairing. Here and in the external shots on the streets of  NY, when they are used, the mise-en-scene and cinematography are truly inspired.  We can commend cameraman Joseph F. Biroc, but who directed these scenes? My bet was Aldrich.

The Garment Jungle (1957)

Silver and Ward list the movie in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference, and to my mind ‘invent’ some film noir connections in the mise-en-scene and the lighting of some scenes. But For me The Garment Jungle is strictly melodrama.

3 thoughts on “The Garment Jungle (1957): Gia Scala’s Picture”

  1. Hi! Tony,
    What a very interesting review of a film that I have
    never watched, but *no worries* I think this film is part of Alexander’s “Mother Lode” after reading your review I’am glad that I didn’t invest (financially) in this film.
    But, then again, Tony, on the other hand, I may like this film, more so than you did?!? … Who Knows?!? 😕 I have to wait until after I watch this film!…in order to determine whether I will give this film the thumb(s)-up or the thumb(s)-down.)
    Take care!
    Dcd 😉


  2. And part of MY mother lode as well Dee Dee!!! LOL!! (Thank You) It is here and I have copied it to watch down the road, even though Tony points to the issues it suffers from, not the least of which is a surprisingly ‘weak’ performance from Lee J. Cobb. But it’s good to know that Mr. Loggia is on target. And yes, I would guess myself that Aldrich is to be credited with the choreography of those scenes, without even having seen it. Very honest assessment here.


  3. Hi! Sam Juliano,
    Oh! that goes without saying…in other words, “You are the “man” who(m) held all the “power” of the “Mother lode” in your “hands!” ha!ha!

    Take care! 😉


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