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 ...
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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>
It's a Warren William showcase that should be seen along with his other ruthless tycoon triumphs, such as Employees Entrance (1933) and Skyscraper Souls (1932). Cagney personified the street tough with a gun and the guts to power his way into the penthouse. William personifies the unscrupulous aristocrat with the charm and polish who's already in the penthouse. What both have that makes each so convincing is total self-assurance. When Kroll (William) says: Wait till it (the bad) happens, then I'll take care of it-- we believe him, just as much as we believe Cagney's snarl. Today, Cagney is still a household name, while William has unfortunately been forgotten, the victim of an A-picture career that peaked during the forbidden pre-Code era that never turned up on popular TV.
Here William plays a real life character (Swedish match king Ivar Kreuger) who schemes and manipulates his way to the top of Europe's financial empire. Oddly, the schemes and shenanigans remain illuminating of our own time some 80 years later, as other reviewers point out. After all, it looks like Kroll relies on a Ponzi setup in assembling his empire much in the way Bernie Madoff swindled billions from investors before finally taking a fall. In fact, a viewer can probably learn more about the anatomy of our own recent financial meltdown from this antique than from anything on the current screen.
All in all, this celluloid obscurity remains both broadly topical and a fascinating glimpse of capitalism's perils and attractions at the top. It's also a chance to catch one of Hollywood's most compelling actors in a tailor-made part. William may be unknown to the broader public, but it looks like a new appreciation is building among old film buffs.
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