Bootlegger/cafe owner Ralph Bellamy recruits crude working man Wallace Beery to join his gang which is masterminded by crooked criminal defense lawyer Lewis Stone. Beery eventually takes over Bellamy's operation, beats a rival gang, becomes wealthy and dominates the city for several years until a secret group of 6 masked businessmen have him prosecuted and sent to the electric chair with the help of rival crusading newspapermen Clark Gable and Johnny Mack Brown. Waitress Jean Harlow is torn between her love for the honest newsman Brown and her financial dependence on her generous boss, Beery. Written by
Worth watching to see Clark Gable before he was a star
This is an odd movie on two accounts. First, the plot for this movie appears to have been stolen by Warner Brothers just four years later in SPECIAL AGENT. Both films feature a newspaper reporter who is actually a government agent. And both have these reporters gaining close access to mob leaders in order to convict them of tax fraud. I just can't believe the story parallels are just coincidental. Second, while he receives very low billing, Clark Gable is given one of his first starring roles. Despite the low billing, he is second only to Wallace Beery in the film in regard to time on screen and importance to the story.
As mentioned above, this film concerns Gable getting close to mobster Beery in order to help a secret grand jury gain enough information for an indictment. However, unlike SPECIAL AGENT, there is more emphasis on the exploits of the mob leader and the newspaper reporter's role is slightly less prominent. While the film was certainly more original that SPECIAL AGENT, the film wasn't quite as polished and seemed a bit shrill. As a result, if you only want to see one film, SPECIAL AGENT is probably a slightly better film.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?