Purple Gang, The: Frank McDonald’s Crimeer about Jewish Gang in Detroit

Frank McDonald directed The Purple Gang, a period crime film, starring Barry Sullivan, Robert Blake and Jody Lawrance.

The Purple Gang (aka the Sugar House Gang), a criminal mob of bootleggers and hijackers, with predominantly Jewish members, operated in Detroit, Michigan during the 1920s.

They became Detroit’s dominant criminal gang, but ultimately excessive violence and in-fighting caused the gang to destroy itself in the 1930s.

It portrays the activities of The Purple Gang bootlegging organization in 1920s Detroit.


Barry Sullivan as Police Lt. William P. Harley
Robert Blake as William Joseph ‘Honeyboy’ Willard
Elaine Edwards as Gladys Harley
Marc Cavell as Henry Abel ‘Hank’ Smith
Jody Lawrance as Joan MacNamara
Suzanne Ridgway as Daisy
Joe Turkel as Eddie Olsen
Victor Creatore as Al Olsen
Paul Dubov as Thomas Allen ‘Killer’ Burke
Ray Boyle as Tom Olsen
Kathleen Lockhart as Nun
Nestor Paiva as Laurence Orlofsky
Lou Krugman as Dr. Riordan
Robert Anderson as Police Commissioner
Mauritz Hugo as Licovetti
James Roosevelt as Himself in Prologue


I am grateful to TCM for showing the film on December 5, 2019.