Wallace Beery pulls out all the stops in scene stealing and as an extra has a touch of the brogue in his speech as Sergeant Madden of the NYPD. Of course when we first meet Beery he's merely Patrolman Madden who finds a baby girl on his doorstep and brings him home to wife Fay Holden. Beery and Holden already have a boy of their own and a neighbor's kid who hangs around so much he's like one of the family.
The kids grow up to be Laraine Day, Alan Curtis, and Tom Brown respectively. Curtis is a newly minted patrolman himself fresh from the Academy and burning with ambition and now married to Day although Brown has a thing for her.
He shoots a young punk David Gorcey caught in the act of a robbery although he could have with some effort taken him alive. That whole incident shows how times have changed, today Curtis would be suspended, maybe kicked off the force for shooting an unarmed suspect. As it is he gets a leery well done, but earns the ire of local hood Marc Lawrence whose girl friend Marion Martin was Gorcey's sister.
Lawrence arranges a nice little jackpot for Curtis and I won't say any more because the plot of Sergeant Madden gets more maudlin and unbelievable as it continues.
Although the private Wallace Beery was hardly matching the lovable oafish type Beery portrayed in sound films even as a villain, Sergeant Madden is the kind of film that Beery was asked to carry strictly on the strength of that appeal. Beery carries Sergeant Madden to an average rating for me, strictly on that appeal.
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