Socially-conscious banker Thomas Dickson faces a crisis when his protégé is wrongly accused for robbing the bank, gossip of the robbery starts a bank run, and evidence suggests Dickson's wife had an affair...all in the same day.
It's the 1930s, the Depression era, and the Board of Directors of Thomas Dickson's bank want Dickson to merge with New York Trust and resign. He refuses. One night, Dickson's bank is robbed of $100,000. The suspect is Matt Brown, an ex-convict whom Dickson hired and appointed Chief Teller. Brown, who's very loyal to Dickson, refuses to say where he was that night. He actually has two witnesses for his alibi, Mrs. Dickson and fellow worker Cyril Cluett, but Brown is protecting Dickson from finding out that Mrs. Dickson was with Cluett having a romantic evening. Cluett, who has a $50,000 gambling debt, is actually responsible for the robbery, but lets Brown take the rap. Will Brown's loyalty to Mr. Dickson pay off, or send him back to prison?Written by
According to soundman Edward Bernds: "Allan Dwan started the picture and worked about a week or ten days on it... Dwan made even Walter Huston look bad, and we wondered how long it would take Cohn and Briskin to wake up to the fact. When [Capra] took the picture over, threw out everything that had been shot before, and started over again, I fully realized, for the first time, what directing really was. Scenes that had been dull became lively, performances that had been dead came alive." See more »
During the robbery scene, a cable can be seen protruding from the guard's trousers. See more »
Matt! I want you both to take the day off, go downtown, get a license, and get married right away.
[Matt starts to protest]
I don't want to hear any more about it. If you don't get married I'm going to fire the both of you. Helen, while you're downtown, you might stop in and make reservations for the bridal suite on the Berengeria, sailing next week.
Gee, thanks, Mr. Dickson.
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After all the material I have read about so many better known Frank Capra movies, I am amazed that this one has not been more widely acclaimed. "American Madness" tells a great big, intricate tale involving a host of characters tangled up in a fairly complex sequence of events, and all in less than an hour and a half. As the pace of the action grows ever quicker, and the screen imagery becomes more and more spectacular, the film skillfully holds the viewer's undivided attention without any slack moments. True to the Capra style, there a moments of preachy grand-standing, which one should expect in such movies of this era. The conclusion of the show, also typical of Capra films, is a bit too neat and tidy for today's more jaded and skeptical tastes; however, if you like this director's best work, this one should not be missed. Such a skillful, riveting, and economic dramatization of a rousing, ambitious spellbinder of a tale is very rare in any era.
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