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Alibi (1929)

TV-PG | | Crime | 20 April 1929 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Roland West's Alibi)

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 5 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Harry Stubbs ...
...
Eleanor Griffith ...
...
...
Police Sgt. Pete Manning (as Purnell B. Pratt)
...
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Storyline

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 <fkelleghan@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nightstick  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length) | (Kino Print)

Sound Mix:

(MovieTone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Regis Toomey. See more »

Quotes

Joan Manning Williams: I've had enough with being a policeman's daughter. And I don't want to be another policeman's wife
Buck Bachman: Well, now, what's the matter with policemen?
Joan Manning Williams: They think themselves great heroes.
Buck Bachman: Well, we've got to uphold the law.
Joan Manning Williams: Law! Is bull-dogging, third-degreeing people into confessing crimes they didn't commit, is that law?
Buck Bachman: No, but... Oh, I don't understand.
Joan Manning Williams: Of course you don't. You're a policeman. And you'll never understand!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Indie Sex: Censored (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

I've Never Seen a Smile Like Yours
(1929) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Justin Johnson and Eddie Frazier
Copyright 1929 by M. Witmark & Sons
Sung by Irma Harrison (dubbed by Virginia Flohri)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Warm-Up to the Warners Gangster Film
1 May 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Alibi" starts out promisingly enough, with a sort of sound symphony set to an expressionist montage of a man being released from prison. We hear the tread of wardens' boots, the clank of truncheons against metal bars, steel doors rasping and clanging -- it's almost like a musical number and pays homage to the new technology that had so recently hit screens and changed films for ever in the late 20s.

But then "Alibi" starts talking, and things go quickly downhill from there. This Best Picture nominee from 1929 does manage to capture a striking visual style, which is something I can't say for the film that won the second Academy Award for Best Picture, "The Broadway Melody." But it's clear that the team behind "Alibi" didn't have much more of an idea of what to do with sound than the creators of that other film did.

As with "The Broadway Melody," "Alibi" is more interesting as a blueprint for films that would spring from the same genre than it is on its own terms. In this case, that genre is the seedy gangster film that Warner Bros. would turn into an art form only a few years later.

Chester Morris received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance as the reformed gangster who's not really reformed, but his mugging is nearly uncomfortable to watch -- he would prove himself to be a quick learner in the sound medium and deliver a very good performance in "The Divorcée" only a year later. The abstract art direction by William Cameron Menzies was also recognized by the Academy with a nomination.

"Alibi" tricks a viewer into thinking that it's going to go to some rather interesting places that it ultimately doesn't. There's some attempts at obscuring the boundaries between the criminals and the cops that a more heavily enforced production code wouldn't allow in movies from a decade later, but it doesn't take that juxtaposition very far, and we always pretty much know whose side we're supposed to be on.

As with "The Broadway Melody," "Alibi" is interesting for people who want to see what some of the early Academy Award winning and nominated movies look like, but it's not very enjoyable for anything else.

Grade: C


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