IMDb > The Big Gamble (1931)

The Big Gamble (1931) More at IMDbPro »


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Octavus Roy Cohen (story)
Walter DeLeon (screen play) ...
Release Date:
4 September 1931 (USA) See more »
Unable to repay a substantial gambling debt to mob boss North, Alan Beckwith concocts a last-ditch scheme... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Far from perfect script, but saved by a taut and exciting finale See more (5 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

William Boyd ... Alan Beckwith (as Bill Boyd)

James Gleason ... Squint

Warner Oland ... North

Dorothy Sebastian ... Beverly

Zasu Pitts ... Nora

June MacCloy ... Mae
William Collier Jr. ... Johnnie
Ralph Ince ... Webb
Geneva Mitchell ... Trixie
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sidney Bracey ... Wedding Witness (uncredited)
Allan Cavan ... Police Dispatcher (uncredited)
Eddy Chandler ... Red - Gangster Driver (uncredited)
Joseph W. Girard ... Poker Player (uncredited)
Edward McWade ... Justice of the Peace (uncredited)
Jack Richardson ... Poker Player (uncredited)
Phillips Smalley ... Milk Fund Representative (uncredited)
Fred Walton ... Samuel - North's Butler (uncredited)
Eric Wilton ... Poker Player (uncredited)

Directed by
Fred Niblo 
Writing credits
Octavus Roy Cohen (story)

Walter DeLeon (screen play) (as Walter De Leon) &
F. McGrew Willis (screen play)

Produced by
Harry Joe Brown .... associate producer
Charles R. Rogers .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Arthur Lange (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Hal Mohr (photography)
Film Editing by
Joseph Kane (film editor)
Art Direction by
Carroll Clark 
Costume Design by
Gwen Wakeling (costumes)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
E.J. Babille .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
T.A. Carman .... sound engineer
Charles O'Loughlin .... sound engineer
Camera and Electrical Department
Adolph L. Schafer .... still photographer (uncredited)
Music Department
Arthur Lange .... musical director
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
65 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Photophone System)
USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Nora Dugan:I didn't mean to be protruding, but we've got to go.See more »
Movie Connections:
Remake of Red Dice (1926)See more »


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Far from perfect script, but saved by a taut and exciting finale, 28 January 2009
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

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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