Absorbing romantic gangster drama with a good plot and an excellent cast. The plot summary for this picture is pretty skimpy, so here goes; gang boss Vince Shelton (Edward Arnold) is released from prison and announces to his gang at their night club that he wants to go straight. The gang can't believe it and is disappointed. A pesty drunk at the club (Philips Holmes) attaches himself to Shelton, discovers who he is, and hatches a plan to kidnap himself (Holmes) to keep his mother from marrying her fiancé, who he hates. The drunk, we learn, is heir to a fortune. The ransom money would be returned when paid (minus Shelton's cut), because by that time the wedding would be off and the whole scheme was a hoax anyway. But the gang hears about it and doesn't know it's a fake 'sneeze' (gangster parlance for a kidnapping).
Got it so far? Well, that's the bare bones to a better-than-average 'B' from Universal. It is by turns funny, melodramatic and tense, and with a romance interwoven into the plot, all of which makes this a very watchable movie. Old pro Arnold holds the picture together with a big boost from Holmes, who was a pretty fair actor until his untimely death during WWII. The film is only 70 minutes long and moves very quickly but you can still keep up with the twists, and there are several.
The problem is where and how to see this picture, since it's probably deep in Universal's vaults (they hardly release any films unless it's famous). Luckily, it's been restored and loaned by the Library of Congress and I caught it at Capitolfest in Rome, N.Y. just last week. There's just no telling how many unknown good movies are out there somewhere collecting dust and need to be seen. This is one.
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