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Although the plot of Exclusive Story revolves around a gangster story, the climax of the film was the fire at sea of an ocean liner on a return trip from Havana to New York. Two years earlier the famous Morro Castle disaster occurred and I believe MGM used some of the footage from that infamous tragedy.
Weaving that into the plot, MGM fashioned a story about some gangsters now moving in on different rackets and in this case the numbers racket. Robert Barrat plays a Lucky Luciano type kingpin and Joseph Calleia his murderous chief enforcer. When they move in on grocer J. Farrell MacDonald thinking he's not selling enough chances his daughter goes to a crusading newspaper which has been trying to get evidence on Barrat and his gang. Later on J. Carrol Naish who is a Dutch Schultz type winds up murdered on MacDonald's doorstep.
To cut to the chase reporter Stu Erwin gets his story, but also the counsel for the newspaper, Franchot Tone, gets appointed a Tom Dewey like special prosecutor. And together they start to move on Barrat and the rest. And to top it all off Tone and MacDonald's daughter Virginia Bruce get a nice little romance going.
Even in a gangster film that would have been more a product of Warner Brothers than MGM, Louis B. Mayer just had to get Franchot Tone in white tie and tails. Tone is of course a society lawyer so a scene with formal wear was naturally worked into the plot for him.
The action scenes were well done however and I doubt Tom Dewey ever thought of himself parachuting on to a burning ocean liner to personally save a witness. And Tone of course just came from a big society shindig as well.
I doubt a lot of today's audience will get the significance of the people and events that the audience of 1936 did. Still the dating of the film does not in any way lessen the entertainment value.
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