On New Year's Eve 1946, Sheila Page kills her husband Barney. She wishes that she could relive 1946 and avoid the mistakes that she made throughout the year. Her wish comes true but cheating fate proves more difficult than she anticipated.
A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
Bootlegger/cafe owner Johnny Franks recruits crude working man Louis 'Slaughterhouse' Scorpio to join his gang which is masterminded by crooked criminal defense lawyer Richard Newton. Slaughterhouse eventually takes over Franks' operation, beats a rival gang, becomes wealthy and dominates the city for several years until a secret group of 6 masked businessmen have him prosecuted and sent to the electric chair with the help of rival crusading newspapermen Carl Luckner and Hank Rogers. Waitress Anne Courtland is torn between her love for the honest newsman Hank and her financial dependence on her generous boss, Slaughterhouse.Written by
The Secret Six, produced by William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Pictures for MGM, has an interesting message about extralegal means to bring down systemic corruption. The title figures are six notable citizens who are all masked, representing all kinds of interests who come together when organized crime takes over a city. We never see The Secret Six, they only come in the last third of the film. But we do see how they operate.
The films is the story of the rise and fall of Wallace Beery who becomes an Al Capone like figure, the real brains of the outfit however is the mob's lawyer Lewis Stone. With Stone pulling the strings and polluting the justice system, Beery rises to power in a typical gangland battle. When the regular law enforcement channels don't work, The Secret Six start working with the federal government to bring Beery down. Working with them are a pair of reporters Johnny Mack Brown and Clark Gable. A key witness in the events is Jean Harlow in her first MGM film.
For those who are used to seeing Lewis Stone as the rock of integrity as Judge Hardy, Stone as a bottom feeding shyster lawyer will be quite the revelation. Maybe because he's cast against type he's so good, he just oozes sanctimony in front of a jury.
One character I wish that we'd seen a bit more of is Paul Hurst who is Beery's friend and whom the gang elects mayor of a small town. Once doing that the gang moves on to a big city where they take down top gangster boss John Miljan. The situation parallels Al Capone's takeover of Hawthorne, Illinois. I wish Hurst hadn't just disappeared from the story after his election.
The Secret Six was the first of six films that Clark Gable and Jean Harlow worked in. Next to Joan Crawford, Gable teamed with Harlow more than any other leading lady. Neither of them however are the stars here, they are billed way down in the cast list. Marjorie Rambeau also has a nice role as a good time girl who Beery uses as a doormat, but Rambeau has the last laugh on him.
Although Warner Brothers was the gangster studio with their emphasis on working class films, The Secret Six could give any of the Warner products a run in quality.
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