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Ray Danton in <i>The George Raft Story</i>
Ray Danton in The George Raft Story

The George Raft Story is a 1961 American biographical film of Hollywood film star George Raft. Ray Danton portrays Raft and the film was directed by Joseph M. Newman. The picture was retitled Spin of a Coin for release in the United Kingdom, a reference to Raft's character's nickel-flipping trick in Scarface (1932), the film that launched Raft's career as an actor known for portraying gangsters.

Overview


The film is a largely fictionalized version of Raft's turbulent life and career. Neville Brand appears briefly as Al Capone, recreating his role from the 1959 television series The Untouchables. Although other characters were fictional, Moxie was based on Raft's long-time friend and associate Mack Gray. Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel is a major character. No mention is made in the film of Raft's long-estranged wife Grayce (Mulrooney) or early mob benefactor Owney Madden.

George Raft and Mack Gray had played themselves almost two decades earlier in a markedly different but equally fictionalized biographical movie about Raft's early days as a dancer reluctantly involved with gangsters entitled Broadway (1942).

Cast


Production


Allied Artists announced the film in 1959 as part of a slate of projects including Streets of Montamarte with Lana Turner as Suzanne Valadon, The Purple Gang with Barry Sullivan, Teacher was a Sexpot with Mamie Van Doren, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Pay or Die with Ernest Borgnine as Joseph Petrosino and The Big Bankroll about Arnold Rothstein.[1][2] It was announced again in 1960 with Ben Schwalb to be producer.[3]

Schwalb said that filming would start October 7, 1960.[4] Filming wounded up being delayed several more months. Ray Danton signed to play Raft, Brad Dexter was Bugsy Siegel and Jayne Mansfield played an unnamed star. Joseph Newman agreed to direct.[5]

The Las Vegas comedy team Pepper Davis and Tony Reece was signed to play a support role. Frank Gorshin was also cast.[6]

Danton, borrowed from Warner Bros, was cast on the strength of his performance in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond. Danton said he decided not to "do an impersonation of Raft... That solved most of my problems right there. I watched a lot of his old films and noticed a sort of strong suppressed hostility."[7]

Danton says he only met Raft once and the actor told him ""We have to make careful they [the filmmakers] don't make this guy [Raft] into a heavy." Danton later said "I thought it was a strange, obtuse thing to say."[7] Dean Jennings wrote The George Raft Story in five instalments for the Saturday Evening Post. He was entitled to 20% of what Raft made from a picture based on his story. In June 1961 Jennings said he had no received anything and was suing.[8]

Filming started in July 1961.[9]

Release


The film was known in the UK as Spin of a Coin.[10]

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