The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond is a 1960 film directed by Budd Boetticher. The picture marked the film debut of Dyan Cannon and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Howard Shoup.
In the 1920s, ambitious but smalltime thief Jack Diamond and his sickly brother Eddie Diamond move to New York City. Jack meets dance instructor Alice Shiffer, lies to her to date her and to steal a necklace from a jewelry store. After being incarcerated for a time, he works with Alice at her dance school while on probation.
He then gets hired as bodyguard of infamous Arnold Rothstein who gives him the nickname Legs. His plan is to supplant Rothstein with the intention of stealing his bootleg, drugs and gambling businesses. After Arnold is murdered, Legs Diamond sells protection. When he travels to Europe with Alice on a vacation, he sees in the newspaper that the New York underworld has changed with the National Prohibition Act.. Legs returns to America and confronts the syndicate, demanding a cut from their operations. He kicks Alice out of his life and turns to Monica, who betrays him. Hit men enter his hotel room and shoot him dead. In the final scene, as his corpse is being removed on a stretcher, Alice says he was loved by many but that he loved nobody.
Frank de Kova's role is only listed as "The Chairman" of the new crime syndicate. He was portraying Lucky Luciano, but as Luciano was still alive at the time, it was decided not to name him specifically.
The lead role was first offered to Robert Evans. When he turned it down Warner Bros. Television contract star Ray Danton took the lead. Evans also had turned down the lead for The George Raft Story that Danton also played.
Danton reprised his role as Legs Diamond in Portrait of a Mobster (1961).
|“||The unhealthy keynote of Warners' flashy screen portrait of the notorious Jack Diamond is that his "rise" is quite entertaining to watch ... However, there is nothing loose about the writing. Nor the crispness of Budd Boetticher's direction. Nor the course of the hero's career, as he rises from a smalltime thief to be the personal bodyguard of Arnold Rothstein.. This shrewdly mounted portrait of a man who certainly made his mark—in crime.||”|
The film was remade as a musical entitled Legs Diamond which debuted on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on December 26, 1988, and closed on February 19, 1989 after 64 performances and 72 previews.