Marketed as a crime/action flick,Hoodlum is destined to be missed by squeamish girls and the guys who go to movies with 'em. And that's a damn shame. Hoodlum is a powerful film as much as it's a historical drama. For those of us who watch Dave Letterman and The Daily Show for our news, we need films like Hoodlum,Casino,Rage in Harlem as much as we need Gore Vidal to keep writing books like Lincoln and Burr (and not movies for an aging Harrison Ford to gape dumbly in). Without timepieces (I don't think The Man in the Iron Mask qualifies here), our microwaved fast-food generation has no reference points. Our culture does pre-date Leave it to Beaver. Hoodlum is set in Harlem during the '30s, a time where high roller clubs were hot, racism wasn't even a debatable issue, the Mafia were nearly untouchable, high-profile "celebrities," and everyone who could afford it dressed in style. Perhaps it's because Hoodlum focuses on the big money movers and shakers and not the blue collar grunts, but it's easy to daydream about where you'd fit into that world when viewing the film. In other words, it entertains, educates, and takes you out of the context of your everyday life. For that alone, it's worth the bucks. And that doesn't even begin to mention the superb acting and the well-written script. Hoodlum is as much about one man's drive to be something in a world where the color of his skin limits his options to practically nothing as it is about crime bosses and shoot outs. It's also about love. And greed. And back-stabbing business. Not to mention losing yourself in what you've built yourself into. Deep stuff. Plus, the tunes are great, the dialog memorable, the scenery luscious, and the action pretty damn tense. Fishburne is an intense actor - ruthless, thoughtful, and inspiring (even in a turd like Event Horizon) - and Roth hasn't been this charmingly deranged in a long, long time. Sure,Hoodlum has shoot outs, stabbings, and more double-crossings than you'll find anywhere except the real world, if you wanted some Disney-treated PG-13 "historical drama" about how fucked up America has been (and probably always will be), go rent Dances with Wolves.