His female co-stars were not exactly dazzling. Sylvia Field made a couple of films around the dawn of sound, disappeared, then came back in the early forties for character parts. Duane Thompson had been a 1925 Wampas Baby star but had found her acting vocation in westerns with stars such as Buzz Barton and Ted Wells - "Voice of the City" proved her last but one film.
The actors to watch are Robert Ames, Willard Mack and John Miljan, perfecting his oily persona which stood him in good stead for many years to come. Ames plays Bobby Doyle who, as the film starts, is going over the wall in a prison break. So far, so good, but it soon after descends into a talk fest as Doyle, with "Johnny the Hop"'s help, quickly makes his way to Beebe's flat. I know talkies were new and different, acting had to be learned but Sylvia Field came from the "wide eyed" school of acting and her part was big - she was almost the equal star. She was in many of the conversational scenes and her gooey acting got a bit much at times - especially when both she and Mary are convinced of the loyalty of Don Wilkes (it's Miljan, of course), a mobster who is frantically working behind the scenes to put the police on Doyle's trail - if he can only wheedle the information out of Beebe. She has given her solemn vow not to disclose Bobby's whereabouts but within minutes under Don's smooth lies she is singing like a canary!!!
Detective Biff was played by Willard Mack who also directed the movie. He had been an actor and a writer (he wrote "Tiger Rose", Lenore Ulric's greatest stage triumph) and had also been married to two beautiful actresses, Marjorie Rambeau and Pauline Frederick but he was also an alcoholic and an addict and died in the early 1930s. His Biff really channelled the type of policeman that Thomas E. Jackson was soon to make his own - raspy voiced, slow of speech, a Mr. Cool of 1929!! He also flings around a few phrases - "snowbird", "shoot that in your arm, hop, either arm"!! so the viewers know exactly the type of "problem" that Johnny has!! Also Johnny's furtive looks and skulking out of camera range with a spoon but Beebe seems none the wiser!! Johnny was the initiator of the jail break but because of his habit, police soon have him in custody, hoping with his supply cut off he will squeal - and he does!!
Again there is not much action and it is clear that MGM were not comfortable with this type of gritty crime story. Robert Ames was good but once he went to the hideout there were often long stretches were Field had to hold the film up and she just wasn't able to. The most thrilling scene, when the police burst into his hide-out only to find him hanging by a rafter - but of course he is only foxing!! MGM wouldn't dare kill off the movie's hero 5 minutes before the end. Clark Marshall who was pretty good playing Johnny, was another actor who fell through the cracks - he made a couple of movies in 1919, 1920, then made a few more from 1929 on, playing parts like Lefty and Runchy!!