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,
The good guys plant a movie camera in the wall of the villain's apartment to spy on them. We see the lens barely peeping from the wall behind a china figurine. Yet, when they show the film later as evidence, the camera tilts, pans, and frames all the action from various angles, which would not have been possible given the setup. See more »
Despite a somewhat conventional story, the result is very watchable
In the mid-1930s familiar movie gangsters like Edward G. Robinson and Jimmy Cagney had image makeovers. Now that the new Production Code was accepted in 1934, gangster films were less frequently made and less violent. As a result, these two actors were now given other roles--broadening their acting range. I am sure that the actors liked this chance to do something other than act tough and kill, but there is still an oddness in seeing 'Little Caesar' playing a crime-busting law professor in this film!
Despite the change, this is still a dandy little film even if it is a bit conventional. Like many of the Post-Code films, this one is about punishing the gangsters and Robinson becomes obsessed with rooting out local mobsters. At first, his crusade falls flat, but when he ultimately realizes the important lesson that to have a free country, you need to ignore the Bill of Rights!! Locking up prisoners with no specific charges or evidence as well as having publicized fist fights with them is how Robinson eventually gains the upper hand! Now that's an interesting way to defend democracy!
Robinson's performance is a bit more three-dimensional than usual and he's ably supported by the ever-professional Otto Kruger. Direction is good and the script, while a bit predictable, is still pretty well written. All these come together to make a film that is more than just a time-passer--it's a lot of fun as well.
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