Though released at a time when all-talking pictures were the norm (Sept 1929), the recording and static camera technique mar an otherwise fascinating glimpse of the Moore brothers together.
Tom, Matt and Owen Moore play the three sons of Mr. and Mrs. O'Farrell, an oh-so-Irish couple living modestly in Manhattan. The O'Farrells express pride in their apparently successful sons as they prepare for a family get-together. This opening reel is an unmoving camera shot with ma and pa discussing each child and is rough going as Frank Sheridan (pa) and Emma Dunn (ma) speak with such thick brogue that the dialog is difficult to follow. This left my eyes wandering to the chandelier and the big black microphone clearly visible there. Placed far above the actors, the echoes it captured render many lines unintelligible.
As the sons arrive, the film's pace picks up. Jimmy (Tom Moore) is a uniformed cop, fresh to the force and following his father's policeman footsteps. John (Matt Moore) appears as ambulance surgeon, humble and soft-spoken. Last to show is the slick Dennis (Owen Moore), unknown to all as living a secret life as Mueller, the town's biggest gangster. The family scenes are good, and the picture improves consistently from this point on. I won't spoil a familiar plot, but Jimmy the cop makes detective and is assigned to investigate (brother) Mueller's gang. The Moore brother scenes are naturalistic and satisfying.
But, as the camera set-ups increase, so do the sound goofs. During one scene, you will hear things being moved around off-camera. Another unbilled performer is one of those big exhaust fans so prevalent before air conditioning. Clearly heard above the dialog, and with two scenes, it should have received a screen credit!
This is, however, the only chance to see Tom, Matt and Owen together on-screen, and that is worth the film's cinematic shortcomings. Tom and Matt would appear together in 1930's Costello Case and Woman Racket, but they would all fade into obscurity as the sound era took hold and brought fresh faces from Eastern theater stages. Tom, who would live until 1955, disappeared from the screen by 1938, and his talkie zenith is 1934's Return Of Chandu. Matt starred in 1933's Deluge, but would be more accessible in Rain (1932) as Dr. MacPhail. He ecked out a living in film as an uncredited character actor until his death in 1960. Most famous of the three was the hard-drinking Owen Moore. Owen married Mary Pickford secretly in 1911, their stormy marriage ending in 1920. Owen was slim, dark and didn't look like his other brothers. His casting as the gangster here is perfect, and his performance is very good. Owen is terrific in 1930's Outside The Law as Fingers O'Dell. It's a shame his life and career were cut short by drinking, he died in 1939.
Ironically, Owen's gangster-partner Silk Ruffo is played by Arthur Housman who made his career playing inebriated characters. And here his role is stone cold sober.
Enjoy this early talker from RKO which survives only in its 16mm TV distribution print.
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