Ruby falls in love with small-time con man Eddie. During a botched blackmail scheme, Eddie accidentally kills the man they were setting up. Eddie takes off and Ruby is sent to a reformatory for two years.
Lil works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has ... See full summary »
Cassie has come to New York and goes to work as a model where her friend Gladys works. She falls in love with wealthy young Jerry who is already married. Gladys has the same probelm with ... See full summary »
Raymond Dabney returns to his family after trouble with the law. He convinces the sheriff to give him a job watching the house and furniture of widow Crystal Wetherby without knowing she is... See full summary »
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
The $3,600 that was on Scorpio when he checked into jail would be about $56,000 in 2016. Back then it was easier to carry around such sums as U.S. currency had bill denominations above $100 - as seen by the $1,000 bills in the cigarette cases Scorpio passed out as bribes. See more »
When 'Slaughterhouse' Scorpio (Wallace Beery) shoots Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy), the view is of Franks from behind and only the gun smoke and sound of an automatic weapon firing from just off-screen. When Scorpio is shown immediately afterward, he is holding a revolver and not an automatic weapon, so obviously the two scenes were shot separately and patched together. See more »
What excuse did you give him for pretending to be a deaf-mute?
Well, I said I was married to a dame that was on the hunt for me and if she found me, she'd send me up for a rap.
And what did Mr. Scorpio say to that?
He said he was sorry for all married men. Wouldn't spill the beans.
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While not on the level of the work being done in Warners crime films during the same period ("The Public Enemy," "Little Caesar"), "The Secret Six" is a fine picture with a lot to recommend it.
Primarily, this comes from the cast. Wallace Beery, then at the height of his fame, makes for a good central figure as Louis "Slaughterhouse" Scorpio, as the name implies, a former slaughterhouse worker turned bootlegger and murderer. His ordering "a hunk o'steak" after spending all day crushing animals heads with a sledgehammer suggests, right at the beginning, that killing means nothing to this huge primate of a man. Lewis Stone, on the wrong side of the law for once, is Newton, the dandyish crooked lawyer and head of the gang, giving an understated, sinister performance and making every scene count. Ralph Bellamy, one of the movies' perennial nice guys, plays a very, very bad guy here, as the gangster who brings Scorpio into the gang, to his later regret. And veteran Marjorie Rambeau, while she has little to do overall, is good as Bellamy's blowsy mistress, Peaches, a far cry from the society matrons she would specialize in later in her career.
But the big surprise, and one of the main reasons for watching this picture, are the solid early performances of Jean Harlow and a young, sans-mustache Clark Gable. Both were free-lancers who were hired for this film on a one-time basis. MGM was so impressed with their work as, respectively, Anne, the cigarette girl who loves and loses reporter Johnny Mack Brown, and Carl, the crusading reporter who aids the Secret Six of the title in bringing down Stone and Beery's criminal organization, that they were hired to long-term contracts right after the picture was completed. Both turn in solid performances. Those who think Harlow couldn't act should see her in the last third of the film, particularly the trial scene. And the sheer mile-a-minute energy Gable brings to his role makes his every scene watchable. Within the next few years, these two would establish themselves as the stuff of Hollywood legend.
Directed by the excellent, underrated George Hill ("Tell It To the Marines," "Min and Bill," "Hell Divers"), scripted by the great Frances Marion, and with the aforementioned solid cast and the usual MGM gloss, "The Secret Six" makes for a very enjoyable film, for historians, crime film buffs, fans of the stars, and just those of us who appreciate a good, involving story.
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