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Unscrupulous Paul Kroll, starting as a Chicago janitor, uses graft to finance a trip to Sweden where by trickery he gains control of his uncle's small match factory. By expert manipulation of everyone and employment of femmes-fatale, he parlays this into a match monopoly, expanding over many countries. Finally he meets a woman so gorgeous she turns his head away from a business that needs constant financial manipulation to survive. Based on the real career of Ivar Kreuger. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Who would have thought a movie about matches would be good?
This movie is about Paul Kroll's rise to power as, you guessed it, the Match King. Kroll is based on real-life swindler Ivan Krueger. Warren William does fine as Kroll although some claims I've read that this is his finest performance seem like overstatements. William's best roles were ones where his charm and humor shone through. Here he's stone-faced serious the whole time, whether he's committing crimes or making love. Speaking of love, I did enjoy the exquisite Lili Damita (the future Mrs. Errol Flynn). She's very sexy. Glenda Farrell fans be advised that her part is small and over with early.
Strangely, I find myself in the position of saying that while I liked the movie I was also a little disappointed. After reading some of the reviews here I was expecting something with a little more grit to it. This is actually a fairly straightforward corrupt businessman picture, similar to others I've seen from the 1930's. There are some gripping parts, such as how Kroll deals with a reclusive competitor and how he backstabs a forger. There's also a nifty pre-credits sequence showing how everybody uses matches. The ending is powerful and perhaps my favorite part of the movie. Overall I would recommend it as it is largely forgotten and should be more well-known. But don't go into it expecting a classic as it's not quite that. It's a good film though.
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