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The Beast Of The City finds Walter Huston cast as a crusading and honest cop, possibly too rigidly honest. His character is a whole lot like Kirk Douglas's detective in Detective Story that would come out a generation later.
The film also borrows a lot from westerns at the time. Huston's unknown western city is ruled by gangster Jean Hersholt who is apparently untouchable as far as the law is concerned. A whole lot like real life gangsters Al Capone and Lucky Luciano who were coming into prominence.
Huston's family life is secure enough, wife Dorothy Peterson, a few kids among them a young Mickey Rooney. He also has his younger and weaker brother Wallace Ford living with them. Ford's got a real good deal, no rent and he apparently chases a lot of skirts. That proves to be his downfall and eventually Huston's.
The skirt that did them in belonged to Jean Harlow. Jean was never a better mantrap in her career than she is The Beast Of The City. Wallace Ford turns out to be putty in her hands.
Also note another good performance in The Beast Of The City is that of Tully Marshall who plays Hersholt's lawyer. The word shyster was invented for lawyers like Marshall, but he's good to have on your side especially if you're guilty as sin.
The climax is an unforgettable one and one more typical to a western than a modern drama. It's what makes The Beast Of The City a classic that is too rarely seen today.
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