The prologue says it allpeople need to support the cops, not the gangsters. After all, it's 1932, the depths of the depression, and cops are seen by much of the public as enforcers of a broken system. Desperadoes like Dillinger, Baby-Face Nelson, and Bonnie & Clyde are romanticized as ordinary folks driven to robbing hated banks. At the same time, romanticizing films such as Public Enemy (1931) and Little Caesar (1931) are smash hits at the box-office. Tellingly, cops are depicted here as opposing a crime boss's (Belmonte) attempt to take over the city, not busting up strikes, enforcing repossessions, or chasing down dashing desperadoes.
It's a pretty good crime movie up to the ridiculous climax, where the two sides look like warring armies engaged in a frontier showdown. Why a police chief would deploy his men so recklessly is a real stretch. But, never mind, since there's a metaphorical point at stake here namely, that police will honorably and bravely defend families no matter the personal cost to them, much as seen in popular Western movies. As a result, what makes for a positive social message is seen in the shootout as not necessarily translating into persuasive cinema.
Harlow makes for a convincing trollopnote her pre-Code liking for pain when properly done! Also, Walter Huston remains one of the fine forgotten actors from this period. Here, he again shows a real ability to convey strong emotion in an understated way. The movie also benefits from LA street locations. It's always a kick to see the styles and fashions from that long ago time. Anyway, taken in its time period, the movie remains very revealing in more ways than one.
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