Johnny Lovo rises to the head of the bootlegging crime syndicate on the south side of Chicago following the murder of former head, Big Louis Costillo. Johnny contracted Big Louis' bodyguard, Tony Camonte, to make the hit on his boss. Tony becomes Johnny's second in command, and is not averse to killing anyone who gets in his and Johnny's way. As Tony is thinking bigger than Johnny and is not afraid of anyone or anything, Tony increasingly makes decisions on his own instead of following Johnny's orders, especially in not treading on the north side run by an Irish gang led by a man named O'Hara, of whom Johnny is afraid. Tony's murder spree increases, he taking out anyone who stands in his and Johnny's way of absolute control on the south side, and in Tony's view absolute control of the entire city. Tony's actions place an unspoken strain between Tony and Johnny to the point of the two knowing that they can't exist in their idealized world with the other. Tony's ultimate downfall may be...Written by
Karen Morley was cast first and given the option of playing either Poppy, the love interest, or the sister Cesca. Morley later said that she knew the role of Cesca was the more interesting of the two, but she accepted the role of Poppy instead and lobbied for her friend Ann Dvorak to be cast as the sister. The role of Cesca would ultimately jumpstart Dvorak's career as a major actress. See more »
The scene Tony pushes and punches the man who refuses to obey Johnny Lovo in First Ward Social Club, it's clearly seen that Tony actually punches the man's palm. See more »
"This picture is an indictment of gang rule in America and of the callous indifference of the government to this constantly increasing menace to our safety and our liberty. Every incident in this picture is the reproduction of an actual occurence, and the purpose of this picture is to demand of the government: "What are you going to do about it?". The government is your government. What are YOU going to do about it? See more »
Due to censorship requirements in several states, a second ending was shot after the film was finished, in which Camonte doesn't try an escape, but is sentenced to death and finally executed on the gallows. This alternate ending was shown only during the original 1932 theatrical run in certain states. All prints, home video, and television versions in current circulation use director Howard Hawks' ending, in which Camonte tries to escape and is shot down. The DVD includes the alternate ending as a bonus feature. See more »
Action-wise, this movie was 60 years ahead of its time, at least in terms of the amount of action in it. I think it's safe to say most classic films, including the crime movies, are much slower in pace than today's fare. Not this one.
Since they didn't show much blood in these old films, it isn't gory but it is action- packed with few lulls. Paul Muni, as "Tony Camonte," the head gangster, is compelling and fun to watch. He's tough-as-nails until the end. The women n here - Ann Dvoark and Karen Morely - are interesting, too, as is one of Muni's sidekicks, a big dumb guy who was funny. Don't be fooled by the billing of George Raft and Boris Karloff. They got it because they turned out to be big names later. In this film, they have very small roles.
This is Muni's show, though, all the way and few actors could ham it up in his day like him. It's a wild ride for the full 93 minutes.
p.s. To anyone misreading my opening remarks: more action doesn't always mean more interesting. Some times it does; some times it doesn't.
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