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Izzy & Moe (1985) Online HD

Izzy u0026 Moe
Izzy & Moe (1985)
  • Director:
    Jackie Cooper
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Robert Boris
  • Cast:
    Jackie Gleason,Art Carney,Cynthia Harris
  • Time:
    1h 32min
  • Year:
This is the film based on the true adventures of Izzy and Moe. They were two retired vaudeville performers who, being unemployed, decided to become Prohibition Enforcement Agents. They are initially treated with scorn from fellow Agents as old men pretending to be cops. That abuse soon stops when the pair refuse to use the standard but futile methods of the agency, and instead employ their theatrical experience to use an amazing variety of disguises and tricks to become two of the most effective agents on the force. Eventually, their outstanding string of successful raids and arrests starts drawing the attention of the mob and their bought cops, who desperately plan to stop this pair.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jackie Gleason Jackie Gleason - Izzy Einstein
Art Carney Art Carney - Moe Smith
Cynthia Harris Cynthia Harris - Dallas Carter
Zohra Lampert Zohra Lampert - Esther Einstein
Dick Latessa Dick Latessa - Lt. Murphy
Drew Snyder Drew Snyder - Agent McCoy
Jesse Doran Jesse Doran - Dutch
Thelma Lee Thelma Lee - Mrs. Perlman
Tom Wiggin Tom Wiggin - Agent Norman Harris
Rick Washburn Rick Washburn - Jake
Roy Brocksmith Roy Brocksmith - Sheriff Bledsoe
Sully Boyar Sully Boyar - Fat Harry
William Hickey William Hickey - Desk Clerk
Tracy Sallows Tracy Sallows - Paula
Mary Tanner Bailey Mary Tanner Bailey - Lilly (as Mary Tanner)

Izzy & Moe (1985)
For years since they last appeared in a l978 ABC TV "Honeymooners"comedy special.Audiences clamored for Jackie Gleason and Art Carney to return to tv for one more performance.In l985,the duo returned to the small screen.But this time.The pair performed in a period drama that showcased their other talent for dramatic acting.As Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith.Jackie & Art play two ex-small time vaudvillians.Who try to find gainful employment in l920's NYC.Times were hard due to the Prohibition laws that prevented adults from getting liquid refreshments and for Poor Moe Smith(Carney)the constant raids by The U.S.Prohib agents didn't help his bar business.Izzy's (Gleason's)money making scheames didn't help Moe's fiancial woes either.But Izzy comes thru for the pair.When he gets them jobs as undercover prohibition agents for corrupt,dour federal officer:"Lt.Murphy".Who wants to end the violent and contempable reign of mobster:"John Vanderhoff" Alias:"The Dutchman"(A dark satire of Dutch Schultz)."Dutch"is taking over all of the crooked booze business in the Northeast and he doesn't give a damn about what methiods that he uses to get the hooch.Izzy & Moe stop "Dutch"and his illegal attacks with their disguises and help from a distrustful,no nonsense federal agent:"Dave McCoy",a young novice agent:"Harris"and a fun loving,flirting saloonkeeper:"Dallas Carter"(A satire on real life NYC saloonkeeper:Texas Gurnin the lady who get Barbera Stanwyck's career started as a showgirl)the boys stop "Dutch"and become heroes to everyone and for once in his life? Jackie Gleason's comedic(or in this case semi/serious character)finally controls his abusive and smart aleck mother in law.When she sees that he is a success at last! She is forced to light his cigar in The store window of Macy's.The film is full of action and some laughs.As our heroes foil the crooked speakeasy owners with their disgusies and their showing up their incompetant superior and one of his tough talking but not too bright agents:"McCoy".But the only flaw with this film is Moe's(Mr.Carney's)love affair with "Dallas Carter".Why anyone would want to fall in love with such a creature.Who only cares about maintaining her unothodox bar business and not care about anyone else is beyond me.The lover's subplot is unnessicary.Despite this ridicules detour."Izzy & Moe"is a wondeful drama and the best of Gleason and Carney's tv performances.It's their last performance on the small screen.But it's their best!
For some reason, despite repeated reunions in their "Honeymooner" roles as Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney never appeared together in a straight (or close to straight) film until a year or so before Gleason died. Then they appeared in this made-for-television film about Prohibition American, and two of it's forgotten heroes: Izzie Einstein and Moe Smith. As has been mentioned before this is not historically accurate by any standard. But it is nice as a record that the two stars' chemistry could sustain a non-"Honeymooner" plot.

Historically Izzie and Moe were Prohibition agents. That would actually set the public opinion of them at a low, as most people (except died-in-the-wool prohibitionists) disliked the rise in crime across the country due to the idiotic Volstead Amendment. Most of the Prohibition agents were a humorless, businesslike group. The only one who permanently raised himself above the bunch was Eliot Ness, by his memoirs THE UNTOUCHABLES, which became a hit television show. But Izzie and Moe almost did the same. From 1920 - 1926 their antics at swooping down on illegal gin mills and distilleries convulsed the nation. Izzie and Moe used a wide variety of disguises. They could come into a speakeasy as Harvard professors, or as doctors, or as actors, or as drunks...whatever, if they knew it would not raise suspicion they would try it. And when they did, the newspapers printed the stories...which delighted the public who otherwise might have supported the speakeasies and not the government. Finally, in 1926, the Department of Justice fired them as agents: they claimed that their notoriety had rendered them useless as effective agents. In reality it was pure jealousy. They were the only two agents (before the belated arrival of Ness) who gained public liking.

The actual story would be worth a serious retelling in movie form. That is not the case here, which does touch on their use of colorful disguises (although I don't think either of them ever dressed up as a woman). It does show the failure of Prohibition due in part to corruption within the Department of Justice and it's agents. However, the story of Moe's (Carney's) so-called romance with a speakeasy hostess named Dallas (based on Texas Guinan) is totally false. Also the fight against one super mobster (based on Dutch Schultz in the film) is not true either - he was one of many targets for them. But with such defects the film is good to watch the two old pros having a ball in the gin-mills of the 1920s. Hopefully it will be released again sometime.
Gleason and Carney do a very good job in this film. Unfortunately, the reason a friend invited me over to watch it was because he knows I'm a history buff with a special interest in the Prohibition era -- and let's face it, even by Hollywood standards the historical facts were trashed. The real Izzy and Moe were very interesting people, if you want to see what they were up to leave this movie on the shelf and head to the library.
Not until I came here did I know that the "Izzy And Moe" story was based on real people. Of course at the time I viewed this, I assumed the story was just fiction, and as fiction it worked out great. As history, it probably was no good-but the entertainment industry rarely depicts history accurately anyway.

The story is about two vaudevillians in the 1920's whose entertainment careers are done for, and one (Carney) has a bar, but thanks to Prohibition, he doesn't do well in that. The other (Gleason) convinces his former showbiz partner to become a Prohibition agent with him, and despite the partner's initial hostility, he agrees. At first, the police don't take them seriously, until their acting abilities turn out to make their alcohol raids far more successful. Of course, one mobster known as "Dutch" finds these new agents make him too uncomfortable, and the story's light tone turns darker as Dutch fights back violently.

The movie may not be good history, but as a story it's entertaining, and Gleason and Carney shine to the end.
As with most movies based on true stories or events, this film has its fiction and deviations from the facts. The biggest one is the insertion of a love interest for Moe Smith, in the person of Dallas Carter. The romance addition to films is Hollywood's (and television's) way to make them appeal to the broadest audience. That and the few other deviations aside in this movie, "Izzy and Moe" stands as a fairly accurate portrayal of the two most famous U.S. prohibition agents. Isador Einstein and Moe Smith were U.S. police officers whose achievements during the first five plus years of Prohibition were legendary. If anything, this movie tones down the level and breadth of the famous pair's booze busting raids.

Jackie Gleason and Art Carney are superb in their roles as Izzy and Moe. They somewhat resemble the two real characters. Izzy was a short, portly guy, just as is Gleason. Moe was taller, like Carney, but he had a bigger build. Cynthia Harris has a fine role as Dallas Carter, the fictitious romantic interest of Moe. Dick Latessa does a good job as Lt. Murphy, the head of the New York prohibition office. He portrays an element of crooked law enforcement that existed within the prohibition units of the time. Drew Snyder is very good as Agent McCoy, and the extensive supporting cast all do a good job.

A big plus for this TV movie is the care that went into building sets and getting props that reflected 1920s New York. The street scenes, the store and building fronts, the carts and wagons, and the number of vintage autos create a sense of reality and of being in the time and place. The background music of the period helped set the tone and carried it through to the end.

This was a wonderful film for Gleason and Carney to cap their long careers of working together in film and television. Both were talented actors and comedians. Carney won an Oscar and several Emmys, and Gleason was nominated for an Oscar and had Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Gleason also had his own big band and composed music. He had a genius for comedy, although his boozing characters were not to the liking of everyone.

The real Izzy and Moe worked as agents during the first five plus years of prohibition. In a 1932 autobiography, "Prohibition Agent No. 1," Izzy said that he and Moe used more than 100 disguises. The movie shows them using several, including one with Moe dressed as a woman. I saw one photo of the pair in disguise on the Internet in which Moe seems to be dressed as a woman, with a fur coat wrapped around him and a woman's hat pulled down on his head. From 1920 to 1926, they raided speakeasies and stills and closed down hundreds of operations. On one Sunday alone, they staged 71 raids. They made just short of 5,000 arrests (4.932) and had a conviction rate of 95%. They confiscated 5 million gallons of liquor.

Prohibition was popular in rural areas but not so much so in the big cities. So, the prohibition agents weren't liked that much. But Izzy and Moe were the exception, and their exploits, means and manners were reported and captured the admiration of the public. Neither men carried weapons, and they were personable characters who could pull off disguises with aplomb. Izzy said that they were never uncovered or spotted. Still, the government in 1926 laid them off, along with 36 other agents. The claim was that because of their notoriety, they could no longer be effective. Yet they had been all along, and never once discovered. I'm inclined to go with the suspicion prevalent at the time that there was jealousy within the government ranks. Until Elliott Ness became an agent in 1927 and began cracking down in Chicago, little more headway was made after Izzy and Moe were retired.

Prohibition lasted until 1933. Izzy and Moe went on to successful careers in insurance even through the Depression. Both men had families. Izzy was 57 when he died in 1938 and Moe was 73 when he died in 1960. This is an entertaining and lighthearted treatment of a time and situation in America that saw a serious in crime, especially murders.
Two aging old coots rival the untouchables in this fantasia on the prohibition era that is an entertaining burlesque on a historical subject. Jackie Gleason and Art Carney are reunited to play the title characters, old friends who has had several fallings-out yet reconciled to become New York answer to what Kevin Costner would document several years later in a major Hollywood Blockbuster.

Gleason, dressed to the nines, doesn't exactly get a warm welcome from Carney, having been raided by the feds which has closed his speakeasy. So the last thing he's interested in doing it becoming a government agent himself, but since Gleason owes him money, it seems like the easier way to get it back. The results are nowhere near realistic in a historical value, but to see Kramden and Norton together again is a shear delight.

The detail of the 1920's is well put together, and caricatures of various 20's personalities add an authenticity that is lacking from the overall narrative. Cynthia Harris is excellent as a hostess based upon Texas Guinan, while Thelma Lee is a delight as Gleason's obnoxious mother-in-law. The highlight is the opportunity to see Carney in drag, looking like Dame Edna, and having a wedding scene with Gleason as the groom. So don't expect Prohibition 101 in this fictitious variation of New York's fight against rum runners, but a good old fashioned style modern version of what is Warner Brothers might have done in the main d 1930's with EGR and Cagney.