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 ... See full summary »
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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>
"The Match King" is a 1932 precode film based on the life of Swedish industrialist Ivar Kreuger, known as the Match King and the inventor of the concept that three on a match is unlucky. That, of course, was so he could sell more matches. This film was rushed into release after Kreuger's suicide. Kreuger's brother claimed that Ivar was murdered, and 30 years after Ivar's death, documents appeared to back this up. In 2000, a book was published about the case, but it's in Swedish.
Warren William, one of my favorites, plays Paul Kroll, the main character in this film, and Lily Damita (Mrs. Errol Flynn) is his great love, an actress who gets a chance at a Hollywood career. She is supposedly based on Greta Garbo. I worked on the Greta Garbo biography by Barry Paris. It's been a long time -- I do believe she worked for a store that Kreuger owned and appeared in a film that Kreuger had something to do with, but I'm not sure the two had any involvement. Damita is lovely, though she doesn't register strongly.
This film deals with Kroll's European match monopoly, which bailed out quite a few countries, earning him the title "Savior of Europe." However, he used probably the first Ponzi scheme or a variation on it, so 88 years later, this movie is still relevant! Warren William is terrific as the smooth, charming, but ruthless and underhanded Kreuger. William during the silent era and early talkies often played the heavies; later on, he got to show his lighter touch, which was on a par with William Powell's. Supposedly a book was published about him in late 2010, which is a tribute to a renewed awareness of him thanks to TCM.
The actual Ivar Kreuger owned many, many businesses, and varied ones, not only match companies in many countries, but stores, banks, a ball bearing company, mining companies, a department store, a movie company, a telephone company, a railroad etc. His demise hit world finances very hard. He was a crook, but a borderline one, and many of his companies are still in existence today.
Very good film that is worth seeing.
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