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 »
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>
It's hard to watch this film out of the context of 1929 when it was first released. The Idea of a talking moving picture was still a novelty. In fact this film was released simultaneously with a silent version for those theaters that had yet to convert to sound. That said the biggest problem with this film is that it doesn't seem to know which side of the law it wants to side with, first it makes the cops out to be, I don't want to say bad guys, so let's just say unlikable. Then towards the end it's creates the criminal as well lets also say unlikeable. The problem is that it has one of the worst transitions I've ever seen. Again one has to go back to the time in which the film was made, this at the height of Al Capone and the bootlegging racketeering of that period and just before the stock market was to crash in October. Today many people see the police forces in a dualistic light, as being both there to serve and protect, and as villains with a corrupt politicized agenda. With this the film should hold up, but it doesn't. The main problem is that the characters are so flat and unlikable. It's hard to care one iota about who lives and who dies. In the end it's a film about jerks, plain and simple. I doubt however that when the film was released the audiences of the day had this same feeling. The idea of beating or threatening a criminal suspect was most likely looked at as not only acceptable but necessary. It's hard to come down on the film one way or the other, as I have mixed feelings about it as a whole. With that said the ending is one of the most anticlimactic endings I've seen since Chinatown. In that film, the whole concept of the movie was based around this idea of the inevitable of the outcome. Alibi fails in that it doesn't seem to hold on to any one concept for too long, instead making leaps that just feel awkward and clumsy. I think that what most likely amazed the audience was the fact that Alibi is one of the first films to start to play around with the sound design, having a moving camera and dancing and sound all working simultaneously creating a spectacle that most film goes of the day had never seen before. I can't say stay away from this film as it has it's place in the pantheon of cinema history, in part because it was nominated for Best Picture at the academy awards. However, if you're just looking for a classic film to watch on a Saturday night, you might want to steer clear of this one.
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