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Alfred E. Green
Edward G. Robinson,
Unscrupulous Paul Kroll, starting as a Chicago janitor, uses graft to finance a trip to Sweden where by trickery he gains control of his uncle's small match factory. By expert manipulation of everyone and employment of femmes-fatale, he parlays this into a match monopoly, expanding over many countries. Finally he meets a woman so gorgeous she turns his head away from a business that needs constant financial manipulation to survive. Based on the real career of Ivar Kreuger.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A totally unscrupulous cad plots & schemes to finally become THE MATCH KING of the world, oblivious to the many lives he's destroyed. But with blackmail & murder part of his personal arsenal, how long can it be until avenging fate topples him from his throne?
Warren William dominates this splendid, albeit neglected, crime drama. As in some of his other roles of the same period, William displays his talent for portraying characters simultaneously repulsive & appealing. With his sophisticated good looks & deep, interesting voice, Warren William was the perfect embodiment of the corporate climber, the crook, the conniver. It is a shame this fine actor is generally forgotten today.
Although the plot is firmly centered around William, his co-stars all do a fine job. Brassy Glenda Farrell appears all too briefly as William's first betrayed lover; this was an actress who could really light up the screen, but she's only given two scenes here. Lili Damita is fetching as the movie actress who attracts William. Hardie Albright is a younger relative of William's who gets pulled into his orbit. Blink your eyes and you'll miss Alan Hale as a timber baron. Movie mavens will recognize Charles Sellon as an elderly Match Company executive.
The film makes good use of an intriguing series of short opening scenes, showing various classes of people around the world using that indispensable enabler of civilization, the match.
There was a real life Match King upon whom this drama was based. Ivar Kreuger (1880-1932) was a financial genius whose Swedish Match Company controlled more than half the world's output of matches by 1928. This was accomplished through amazingly speculative deals involving long-term loans to poor nations desiring US dollars, in exchange for match monopolies. As a result, Kreuger's empire grew immensely rich and diversified in many ways. The bubble was soon to burst. World wide depression hit in 1929 and economic pressures mounted steadily. Rather than wait for his holdings to collapse in bankruptcy, Kreuger shot himself in a Paris hotel room on March 12, 1932, aged 52. Subsequent investigations showed his companies to be riddled with fraud & forgery.
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