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The Big Shakedown (1934)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  6 January 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 414 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 4 critic

Racketeers flood the market with counterfeit cosmetics and drugs, causing some tragedies.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Big Shakedown (1934)

The Big Shakedown (1934) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
Glenda Farrell ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Dewey Robinson ...
John Wray ...
Philip Faversham ...
John, the New Salesman
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Regan, the Bartender
Renee Whitney ...
Mae LaRue
G. Pat Collins ...
Gyp (as George Pat Collins)
Adrian Morris ...
Ben Hendricks Jr. ...
Spike (as Ben Hendricks)
George Cooper ...


Former bootlegger Nick Barnes pressures neighborhood druggist Jimmy Morrell into making cut-rate drugs. The money makes it possible for Jimmy to marry Norma Frank, a pharmacy clerk. Expecting a baby, she wants Jimmy to quit the racket. Beaten by the mob, Jimmy works on, diluting the medications still further. Norma is rushed to the hospital for a premature delivery and given bogus medication. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 January 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Big Shakedown  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dutch Barnes: Lefty, what's our racket?
Lefty: Beer!
Dutch Barnes: Beer, huh, you're five minutes late. We're going into the drug business.
Lefty: Not me. I got a brother doing twenty years for going into the drug business and all they found on him was two decks of coke.
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Referenced in This Is Your Life: Bette Davis (1971) See more »


Losing You
Music by Samuel Pokrass
Played on the radio in the apartment
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User Reviews

Gangsters Brush Their Teeth
30 July 2011 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Big Shakedown, The (1934)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Here's yet another Warner crime picture but this one here is about as far-fetched as you can get. A young pharmacist (Charles Farrell) isn't making too much cash in his store, which means he can't marry the girl (Bette Davis) he loves. At the same time a gangster (Ricardo Cortez) realizes there's no market for beer so he gets the bright idea of making fake toothpaste, female products and eventually medicine and hires to pharmacist to make it for him. Before long the gangster has the pharmacies by the neck and soon a tragedy happens. This film runs a very quick 62-minutes and if you're a fan of "B" movies then there's quite a bit to enjoy here. Yes, the story itself is rather silly at times and the final "message" included in a three paragraph newspaper report that we're forced to read is even sillier. I think fans of Warner and the terrific cast are going to enjoy what's on display here as long as they don't go in expecting THE PUBLIC ENEMY or anything of that quality. Farrell is pretty good in his role, although I'm sure many would argue that he's a bit too laid back in part. I thought this actually helped because his character really wouldn't be the type to do anything else than what he goes through here. By this time in his career Cortez was already a master at playing low-level hoods and he's fun to watch as usual. The supporting cast includes Glenda Farrell playing the gangster's mole and we get Allen Jenkins in for a few laughs. Davis isn't the Davis that is now a legend but I always enjoy seeing her in these early movies where she's yet to really hit her stride. Her performance is just fine so fans will have fun here. The director at least keeps the film moving at a fast pace and thankfully it doesn't go on too long because there's really not enough story here for much more. THE BIG SHAKEDOWN is a "B" movie all the way but as long as you don't expect too much it's not too hard to not have fun with the cast.

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