I well and truly dislike this movie's title, which sounds like something Tarzan would say if he stumbled into a crime movie: "You Jane, me gangster." Fortunately, "Me, Gangster" is an above-average film of the early sound era; it has silent-film intertitles with a synchronised soundtrack of music and sound effects. The film is exuberantly directed by Raoul Walsh with many of his directorial trademarks already in place.
There are excellent dramatic performances by Carole Lombard and June Collyer (both of them better known for comedy roles) and a genuinely impressive performance by Don Terry in the lead role, leaving me to wonder why this actor never went on to a significant career.
Jimmy Williams (Terry) is a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks. His father (Anders Randolf) is a dock labourer who worked hard all his life for slave wages, but suddenly has money in his pocket when he turns crooked and becomes a ward-heeler for corrupt politician Bill Kane. Inspired by his father's example - crime pays, but hard work doesn't - Jimmy decides to turn crooked too. Posing as a newsreel photographer, Jimmy visits a factory and steals the payroll. The factory boss is played by veteran character actor Gustav von Seyffertitz ... who gives his usual excellent performance, speaking silent-film dialogue which conceals his (real-life) Austrian accent.
After Jimmy gets caught, the scenes of his arrest and booking are well-done, and the scenes in the penitentiary have an almost documentary feel. Some of the prison sequences in "Me, Gangster" seem to be rehearsals for Raoul Walsh's virtuoso prison scenes in "White Heat".
June Collyer gives a good performance in a dull role (as the good girl who urges Jimmy to go straight), while Carole Lombard has a better time of it as a tough cookie. "Me, Gangster" is a flawed work, but definitely worthy of your attention.
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