In his long career John Ford shared directorial credit in two other films, Mister Roberts and Young Cassidy. Both were considerably better than Born Reckless. Someone named Andrew Bennison who was mostly a screenwriter was the co-director, presumably to help Ford over the bumps of the new sound media.
I saw and reviewed Ford's film, The Black Watch some months ago and he could have used the help. By the time Arrowsmith and Up The River were in theaters, I think John Ford was used to the sound media.
Except for The Whole Town's Talking possibly, I'm not sure if John Ford ever directed anything else that could remotely be called a gangster film. Our hero protagonist here is Edmund Lowe who after being caught along with some other of his friends in a jewelry heist is given the choice by a district attorney to enlist in the army or stand trial. He and his friends are local heroes in their neighborhood and the District Attorney is running for judge. Lowe and company take the offer.
By the way, Roy Stewart as the DA is another type that Ford would use over and over in films, the self satisfied bloviating blowhard who was usually in a position of great responsibility and often misused it. Coming to mind immediately with Stewart as the DA is banker Gatewood in Stagecoach who was so memorably played by Berton Churchill.
The story than goes to very familiar ground for Ford in the military. This is the best part of the film by far and absolutely pure John Ford. All the rough house style comedy that you saw in his later military setting pictures is right here. You'll see Ford regulars Jack Pennick and Ward Bond here.
Back in civilian Lowe sets himself if not as an outright gangster, he becomes a club owner, aka runs a speakeasy which is not quite condoned by polite society. Ford has a great old time ribbing Prohibition, still in affect in 1930. On a more serious note like Al Pacino, his friends are determined to drag him right back in again.
The version I saw of Born Reckless had some footage left out which left some holes in the film so part of its problems come from that. The rest might very well be the result of Ford being forced to share director credit with someone not anywhere close to his talents. It's not a bad film, but not real worthy of what we would expect from John Ford.
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