Vice lord Dominic has brought Swifty Dorgan east to do a job for him. When Swifty appears to have died falling from a train, detective Henderson impersonates him hoping to get into the mob....
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Vice lord Dominic has brought Swifty Dorgan east to do a job for him. When Swifty appears to have died falling from a train, detective Henderson impersonates him hoping to get into the mob. When he's killed his sister Polly poses as Swifty's widow and gets a singing job at Dominic's nightclub. Then the real Swifty shows up. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
And I'll support that conclusion. However, I must preface my commentary by acceding to a predilection for Alice White's performances. I adore her no-apologies-for-pert, straight-ahead style that was the antithesis of 'real' actors who rolled their R's and eyes at every opportunity.
We are introduced to Polly (Alice White) and Jimmy (Harold Goodwin) as new tenants by the neighbors' gossiping. Are they married? The question remains unanswered until just before Jimmy, the precinct's newbie detective, leaves for work. The clever script puts a smile on your face just as Jimmy waves at his sister, Polly from the street, and becomes a drive-by shooting victim.
The scripts' powerful counterpoints and wit are enhanced by director Edward Cline's smart pacing and Sol Polito's brilliant photography. The avenging Polly, masquerades to mob boss Dominic (Edward G. Robinson) as the widow of a dead associate of the gang. But she becomes trapped in his office when the 'widow's husband returns from the dead. When Dominic goes out to meet him, we are left with a great insert of the edge of the office door. Slightly ajar, we watch it in anticipation while Dominic meets Polly's 'dead' husband. Will she make a break for it? Will Swifty confront her? Your mind races as the camera holds on that door. It's bravura filmmaking, and Cline keeps it coming. By the way, Polly embraces her 'husband' whispering "go along, I'm on the spot". The excitement's just beginning, Swifty is only too happy to go home with his 'wife'.
Neil Hamilton handles his role as Swifty Dorgan with effective menace, and Polly goes from being on the spot in Dominic's office to being in a spot behind her own (now locked) door. Frank McHugh's got a fine bit as one of Dominic's hentchmen 'Slug', and advises his fellow thug, Mullins, to give up the girl he can't get along with. Slug's smugness melts, however, when Mullins returns the girl's key only to discover the key is to Slug's girlfriend's apartment.
Earl Baldwin's script has plenty of sparks left, and Polito takes the shootout in the dark to a new level when a spotlight is introduced: not only being shot at, but everything its prowling eye touches gets killed. You'll wonder why Little Caesar is famous after seeing this terrific gangster film.
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