This was called a "B" film by Bow biographer David Stenn when he introduced the first showing of the restored print of this film at New York's Film Forum, but then Paramount never really gave Bow an "A" film budget. If the term "B" film implies anything less than a top-notch, tight, tense, realistic drama with an intelligent script and excellent performances, then this is definitely not a "B" film!
One is caught up in and involved in the characters from the start. Toomey is released from prison, his wife Bow waiting for him. He finds it hard to get a job, but he is determined and is helped out financially by a fellow crook who is happy to see him go straight. The detective who sent him up doesn't believe anyone can go straight and keeps an eye on him. Finally he gets a good job and after three years a substantial promotion. But then his pal, the thief, pulls a jewelry heist--from the district attorney's house!--and is seriously wounded. There are many twists to the plot, all of them believable, completely character driven and tautly presented. The performances are superb: Fenton as Bow's coke-fiend brother, Crisp as the Police Chief, tough but fair even though he's in a tight spot with the DA, and Hurst as the bad detective, thoroughly despicable and totally unlikable but still a human character, not a stock villain. Not to mention Toomey, who gives surprising force to the lead character, a man with inner strength even though he knows he's been dealt a position of weakness, and Bow, equally steadfast against the odds. Especially good is Wynne Gibson as the thief's girl. Her love for him is deep and her grief when he dies is ultimately is what brings about the denouement. In fact, one of the great things about the film is that, though the odds are against them, both couples derive great strength from their love. The story moves fast, and although it's tightly plotted, there's nothing that happens that's expected. Just top notch construction. On a second viewing, I found that the story still moved so swiftly and inevitably that I was again completely wrapped up in the characters and events. This is indeed a top-notch thirties film! Very realistic, well structured, well written script, great acting, great pace. Now that it has been restored, it should be made available on DVD as soon as possible!
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