After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »
Danny is a content truck driver, but his girl Peggy shows potential as a dancer and hopes he too can show ambition. Danny acquiesces and pursues boxing to please her, but the two begin to spend more time working than time together.
Prohibition is ending so bootlegger Bugs Ahearn decides to crack California society. He leases a house from down-on-her-luck Ruth and hires her as social secretary. He rescues Polly Cass from a horsefall and goes home to meet her dad who sells him some phony stock certificates. When he learns about this he sends to Chicago for mob help. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Like every great First National picture, this one starts off quickly, with Edward G. Robinson in full, glorious gangster mode, speaking the classic language of the Prohibition movie gangsters, words like "mugs" and "rods" ornamenting his lines. But there is a twist here: Robinson (as "Bugs" Ahearn, the "Beer Baron"), is going to quit the illegal beer business (since Prohibition has ended), and go straight. In fact, Bugs has a dream: to become successful in high society.
The script is very fast paced and delightful, and in a couple of places, quite shocking, reminding us of how progressive pre-Code Hollywood could be; I almost fell out of my chair when Robinson's flunky and companion Al, when asked by Robinson whether he ever saw a painting like the one in his living room, responds with, "not since I stopped using cocaine"!! Another shocker comes later when Robinson refers to some slimy society people as "fags". Oh dear!
Robinson was an amazing actor. He constantly shifts back and forth between the know-it-all wiseguy bully, and a would be high society snob, who is very unsure of himself. This uncertain, unconfident Robinson, a tough guy who swallows his pride and grovels before his betters, is pleasing to see, and he does it very well. Perhaps one of the great Robinson scenes of all time is when Mary Astor seduces an unsuspecting EGR on a couch. Robinson plays it beautifully, as he has no idea that he is being seduced; and in a delightful moment, when Mary Astor has shyly moved away, sudden realization hits EGR as to what might have just happened. He turns to the camera, and I swear he makes exactly the kind of faces, registering surprise and possible comprehension to the audience, exactly as Oliver Hardy famously did a thousand times in his career. A priceless and lovely moment.
There are many satisfying moments in this film, and I highly recommend this. The early EG Robinson movies are gifts to be treasured, and this is one of the best.
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