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Silky has always moved booze. In prohibition, he smuggled it from Canada, but now that it is legal, he produces his own brand. Seven years before, he sent Doc to prison because Doc was an honest man. Now that he is getting out, Silky wants an honest man as his general manager. When an English solicitor arrives to show that Silky is the new Earl of Gorley, Doc sees his chance to get Silky out of the way. But Silky takes Doc with him to England to see about selling his holdings and taking the money. While Doc knows that none of the property can be sold, he does not tell Silky. While Silky is shown all his duties and responsibilities, Doc is busy bankrupting his business in Chicago. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A miscast Robert Montgomery and a questionable screenplay leave very little to like in this drama.
As much as I like Robert Montgomery as an actor, he doesn't cut it as a Chicago ex-bootlegger and gangster. His idea of acting tough is to jut out his lower lip and say "yeah" a hundred or so times. And when the plot also calls for him to inherit an earldom, a British title and become a member of the House of Lords, it results in utter failure for the film. A fish-out-of-water scenario doesn't work as well for drama as it does for comedy; the lengthy sequence for Montgomery's investiture into the House of Lords was painful to watch. I think I was more uncomfortable than Montgomery was, as he fumbles throughout the centuries-old pompous ceremony which includes a pledge of allegiance to the king. There were some nice moments in the film: butler Edmund Gwenn teaching Montgomery about "noblesse oblige" so that he visits an old sick man and his wife (Ben Webster and Tempe Piggot) to comfort him; how she refuses money, despite her poverty, for the cookie he takes because she says "it would deprive me of my pleasure"; when Montgomery also visits another old tenant (Zeffie Tilbury) and learns she nursed his father as an infant. But these moments were far too few, as the plot concerns itself mostly with Montgomery's greedy desire to cash in on his newfound wealth and with Edward Arnold's revenge for his serving seven years in prison because of a frame-up by Montgomery. There were too many holes in the plot: I would have thought everyone would be happy to get rid of Montgomery instead of pleading with him to stay. And surely the writers could have written a better ending.
I couldn't get over the feeling that Edward G. Robinson would have been so much better in the role that Montgomery played. Curiously, David O. Selznick bought the rights to the novel with Robinson in mind, but then sold those rights to MGM. What a shame!
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