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Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.

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'Bull' Weed
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'Feathers' McCoy
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Rolls Royce Wensel
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'Buck' Mulligan
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Meg, Mulligan's Girl
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'Slippy' Lewis
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Paloma
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Judge (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ...
Street Kid (uncredited)
Andy MacLennan ...
One of Laughing Faces at the Ball (uncredited)
Ida May ...
Laughing Woman at the Ball (uncredited)
Karl Morse ...
'High Collar' Sam (uncredited)
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One of Buck's Henchmen (uncredited)

Directed by

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Josef von Sternberg
Arthur Rosson ... (uncredited) (fired, replaced by J. Von Sternberg)

Written by

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Charles Furthman ... (adaptation) (as Charles Furthmann)
 
Howard Hawks ... (scenario) (uncredited)
 
Ben Hecht ... (story)
 
Robert N. Lee ... (adaptation)
 
George Marion Jr. ... (titles)
 
Josef von Sternberg ... () (uncredited)

Produced by

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B.P. Schulberg ... associate producer
Hector Turnbull ... supervising producer

Music by

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Robert Israel ... (2010 Composer New Score)

Cinematography by

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Bert Glennon

Film Editing by

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E. Lloyd Sheldon

Costume Design by

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Travis Banton

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

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Henry Hathaway ... second unit director (uncredited)

Art Department

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Hans Dreier ... set designer (uncredited)

Camera and Electrical Department

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William H. Clothier ... assistant camera

Costume and Wardrobe Department

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Edith Head ... assistant costume designer (uncredited)

Other crew

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Jesse L. Lasky ... presenter
Adolph Zukor ... presenter
Crew believed to be complete

Production Companies

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Distributors

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Special Effects

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Other Companies

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Storyline

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Plot Summary

'Nobody helps me -- I help them!' boasts open-handed gangster Bull Weed, handing over what will prove to be the best investment in his high-spending career: a thousand dollars that will put the literate 'Rolls Royce' of vagrants back on his feet. Living it up in the Twenties with the aid of cool but smouldering moll Feathers, the Bull lords it over the law and his rivals alike -- specifically big Buck Mulligan, whose floral-tributes business echoes that of a certain real-life Chicago gangster... Yet Feathers, prize possession and object of envy, proves his weak point; and in the end, Bull Weed will indeed come to need help from others, and more than he has ever needed it before. But can Rolls Royce and Feathers still give it to him? And will the Bull accept? Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Keywords
Taglines The Seething Melodrama See more »
Genres
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Additional Details

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Also Known As
  • Paying the Penalty (Ireland, English title)
  • Paying the Penalty (United Kingdom)
  • Les nuits de Chicago (France)
  • Unterwelt (Germany)
  • La ley del hampa (Spain)
  • See more »
Runtime
  • 80 min
Country
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Color
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Did You Know?

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Trivia The film was predicted to be a flop, was shelved by Paramount and eventually released in only one theater in New York. Screenwriter Ben Hecht demanded that his name was taken off the credits. As a result of strong word-of-mouth the movie became an enormous hit and won Hecht the first of his two Academy Awards. See more »
Movie Connections Featured in The House That Shadows Built (1931). See more »
Quotes 'Bull' Weed: -There was something I had to find out - - and that hour was worth more to me than my whole life.
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