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Cecil B. DeMille
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John Francis Dillon
Robert Emmett O'Connor
Chick Williams, a prohibition gangster, rejoins his mob soon after being released from prison. When a policeman is murdered during a robbery, he falls under suspicion. The gangster took Joan, a policeman's daughter, to the theater, sneaked out during the intermission to commit the crime, then used her to support his alibi. The detective squad employs its most sophisticated and barbaric techniques, including planting an undercover agent in the gang, to bring him to justice. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Classic Gangster Film: Overacted but Startling At Times
The acting is mainly from the silent film era, but the fact that it is a sound film actually makes it quite interesting.
The film is pre-Hayes Code and is startling in its violence. I don't think it was until 1937 and "Petrified Forest" (Humphrey Bogart) and 1951 "White Heat" (James Cagney)that such a psychopathic criminal was on screen. I don't think it was until 1970 and "Dirty Harry" (Clint Eastwood) that such a anger-filled cop was shown. The way the police are shown threatening to shoot a suspect and make it look like an attempted escape, really makes one see the need for Miranda Rights for suspects, something that didn't exist in 1929.
The lead performances by Regis Toomey and Chester Morris are memorable. This was Morris' first starring role and he went on to star in nearly 50 films over the next 10 years. In the 1940's he starred 14 times in the detective movie series "Boston Blackie". He did around 45 television shows in the 1950's and 60's.
This was Regis Toomey's first movie. He went on to star in some 25 movies over the next 5 years, before becoming one of Hollywood's most dependable supporting character actors in some 150 more films into the 1950's, often playing police detectives. He was in such classics as "His Girl Friday," "Meet John Doe," "Spellbound," and "Mighty Joe Young." He went on to appear on over 100 television shows from the 1950's to the 1980's. He costarred with Gene Barry in "Burke's Law" for three years in the 1960's.
Director Roland West did just two more films the following years starring Morris, "the Bat Whispers" and "Corsair." Unfortunately, he apparently became involved with real life gangsters and was involved in the tragic death of actress Thelma Todd, which abruptly ended his career. He shows a nice unique style here, with sequences of fluid camera movement inter-cut with quite static shots, a little like James Whale. It is quite similar to the other movies I have seen by him "The Bat" and "The Bat Whispers". If he had continued with films, he might be considered a great auteur today.
This is a must see for cinema buffs and especially lovers of gangster films.
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