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The Big Gamble (1931)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 4 September 1931 (USA)
Unable to repay a substantial gambling debt to mob boss North, Alan Beckwith concocts a last-ditch scheme. Allowing North to take out a $100,000 insurance policy on his life, Alan agrees to... See full summary »

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(story), (screen play) (as Walter De Leon) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Alan Beckwith (as Bill Boyd)
...
...
...
...
Nora Dugan
...
Mae
...
Johnnie
...
Webb
Geneva Mitchell ...
Trixie
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Storyline

Unable to repay a substantial gambling debt to mob boss North, Alan Beckwith concocts a last-ditch scheme. Allowing North to take out a $100,000 insurance policy on his life, Alan agrees to commit suicide after the mandantory one-year moratorium has elapsed. To make things legal, North forces Alan to marry Beverly (Whose brother is also indebted to North) as the beneficiary-of-record. He also assigns "hitman wannabe" Squint to both keep an eye on Alan and "do the deed" when the time comes. But as the year progresses, Alan falls in love with Beverly, befriends Squint and decides he doesn't want to die. But how can he convince North to allow a 100 grand to slip through his fingers? Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gambling | remake | based on novel | See All (3) »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

4 September 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den største Trumf  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Nora Dugan: I didn't mean to be protruding, but we've got to go.
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Connections

Remake of Red Dice (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Far from perfect script, but saved by a taut and exciting finale
28 January 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The film begins with William Boyd (later known to the world as Hopalong Cassiday) meeting Warner Oland in a restaurant. It seems that Boyd owes gangster Oland $5000 and instead of paying him back, he has an intriguing proposition--he'll kill himself and make it look like an accident to that Oland gets his money. Oland likes the idea but isn't interested in just a paltry five grand, so he modifies the idea. Since most policies won't pay off for the first year, Oland will arrange a sham marriage and support Boyd and his new bride for one year--then an "accident" will occur. And, to make sure that nothing happens to Boyd in the meantime (such as cold feet), Oland arranges to have gunman James Gleason follow him and make sure nothing happens during that year. Now too surprisingly, suicidal Boyd actually falls in love with this arranged wife and by now it's too late--Oland won't let him out of the deal.

This plot is very tough to believe and needlessly complicated. Arranging for a wife as well as Gleason seems a bit like overkill. Simply having Oland be the beneficiary seems to make far less sense--but, of course, this changes the plot and then there's no reason for Boyd to change his mind. Despite this rather substantial plot hole and a slow first half of the film, it all managed to pull itself together in the second half--and culminating with a very well-staged chase scene where you DON'T have cheap rear-projected shots and you have some very violent and realistic elements (making it perhaps the best car chase of the era). No cheap stock footage here or a crash that looks ridiculous--it's very well done and made my heart race.

Overall, this is a B-movie with some serious flaws, but provided you can just watch the film without questioning them, you'll be very pleasantly surprised by the end--nearly earning this film an 8. A good job of acting by all except Oland--whose delivery, unfortunately, isn't too much better than his Charlie Chan character in other films!


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