The Lawless Years

NBC (ended 1961)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 3 : Ep 20

    Ike, the Novelty King

    Aired 9/22/61

  • S 3 : Ep 19

    Romeo and Rose

    Aired 9/15/61

  • S 3 : Ep 18

    The Jonathan Wills Story

    Aired 9/8/61

  • S 3 : Ep 17

    Triple Cross

    Aired 9/1/61

  • S 3 : Ep 16

    Artie Moon

    Aired 8/25/61

  • Cast & Crew
  • James Gregory

    Barney Ruditsky

  • Robert Karnes

    Max Fields

  • Harry Dean Stanton

    Maffy (as Harry Stanton)

  • Ken Lynch

    Mr. G. (as Kenneth Lynch)

  • Ruta Lee

    Gloria Fallon

  • show Description
  • Barney Ruditsky was a real-life New York City cop busting bootleggers and gangsters during their heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Lawless Years, which dramatized his exploits, was based on his memoir, and employed him as technical adviser of the series. Episodes opened with Ruditsky in a grungy office recalling the facts of a certain case he'd worked during the days of crime bosses and rampant corruption. He used a slide projector to illustrate details and show the criminals involved in the story which then unfolded as a flashback drama. As played by whiskey-voiced James Gregory, Ruditsky was a short-tempered, hard-boiled, crime fighter who wanted nothing more than to crack the heads of lawbreakers. He lived, breathed, and slept "cop". The Lawless Years hit the air some six months before the debut of that other famous 20's cop show, yet somehow failed to become the phonomenon that The Untouchables did. It was was taken off the air in December of 1959, but returned for a second go-around in 1961, lasting just half a season. This series lead to James Gregory's best-known role, Detective Frank Lugar, on the police comedyBarney Miller. Except for the fact that Miller had a studio audience, the two characters are practically the same--both so serious they're funny. Series creator Danny Arnold, who knew the real Ruditsky, remembered The Lawless Years and thought Gregory was perfect for the part.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • jaynashvil

    User Score: 481

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  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (239)

    • Joseph (about firing at Ruditsky): I didn't mean it. The gun just went off. Ruditsky (slaps Joseph): I didn't mean it. My hand just went off.

    • Joseph (about his stay in prison): By the time I left my cellblock I was runnin' the whole place.

    • Max (to Joseph): On your feet, punk!

    • Maffy: I got something to say. Joseph: You always got something to say.

    • Maffy: Lepke ain't big in the words department.

    • Ruditsky (to Joseph): You won't have to do ten to twenty. You'll only have to do two weeks in the death house.

    • Ruditsky: Did she say who done it? Cop: I asked her but I wouldn't even tell you what she said.

    • Ruditsky (about Tommy): A stranger in a hostile world. Perfect material for the mobs.

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    Notes (29)

    • Harry Dean Stanton would return in Blood Brothers and The Billy Grimes Story.

    • Stanley Adams would return in The Ray Baker Story.

    • Vic Morrow would return in Little Augie.

    • Rebecca Welles would return in The Morrison Story.

    • Al Ruscio would return in No Fare, The Story of Lucky Silva, and The Kid Dropper Story.

    • Waxey Gordon, mentioned in this episode as Cutie Jaffe's brother-in-law, was a notorious New York mobster who was eventually sentenced to a six year prison term for income tax evasion in the 1930's. Gordon died at Alcatraz prison in 1952 while being housed there so he could give testimony against members of a nationwide narcotics syndicate.

    • Dutch Schultz would serve as a recurring nemesis of the show's hero, Barney Ruditsky, much the way Frank Nitti was to Eliot Ness on The Untouchables.

    • Robert Bice, who plays a gangster in this episode, would later join the other side of the law when he appeared in the recurring role of Captain Jim Johnson on The Untouchables.

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    Trivia (11)

    • The character of Nick Joseph appears to be based on Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, a New York torpedo who worked as a hired killer for Murder, Inc. Like Joseph in this episode, Reles later ratted out his employers and also died after a fall from a hotel room window. Reles himself would be featured in a couple of episodes which aired during the final season of The Lawless Years.

    • The real Dutch Schultz did want to assassinate special prosecutor Thomas Dewey who wanted to proceed with racketeering charges against him. Other mobsters opposed this plan and it probably led to Schultz himself getting gunned down with two of his associates inside a Newark, NJ restaurant in October of 1935.

    • Goof: When the camera pulls out from a closeup of Big Ed who's lecturing Tony for dumping a bar owner's beer, the top of the set can be seen.

    • KDKA, the Pittsburgh radio station mentioned in this episode, was the first one to begin broadcasting in the United States.

    • Judge Morrison is based on Judge Joseph Crater, a New York judge who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1930 while under investigation for corruption. This episode presents a speculative theory as to Crater/Morrison's fate.

    • Al Brown was one of the real Al Capone's most frequently used aliases.

    • One huge mistake by the screenwriter of this episode is that he has characters call Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegal by his nickname to his face. In real life you didn't do that unless you wanted to forfeit some major body parts.

    • Louis "Lepke" Buchalter was born into a respectable family. He had three siblings who turned out okay. One brother became a physician, a second brother became a rabbi, and his sister became a college professor.

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    Allusions (2)

    • The character of Mr. G appears to be based on either Meyer Lansky or Lucky Luciano both of whom were opposed to Dutch Schultz's plan to assassinate Thomas Dewey. The real names of Luciano and Lansky could not be used because both men were still alive at the time this episode was filmed.

    • The character of Lucky Silva is based on real life New York Mafia boss Charles "Lucky" Luciano.

  • Fan Reviews (1)
  • A poor man's Untouchables

    By Mad_Buck, Sep 29, 2006