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A Slight Case of Murder (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime | 5 March 1938 (USA)
Former bootlegger Remy Marco has a slight problem with forclosing bankers, a prospective son-in-law, and four hard-to-explain corpses.

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Writers:

Earl Baldwin (screen play), Joseph Schrank (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward G. Robinson ... Remy Marco
Jane Bryan ... Mary Marco
Allen Jenkins ... Mike
Ruth Donnelly ... Nora Marco
Willard Parker ... Dick Whitewood
John Litel ... Post
Edward Brophy ... Lefty
Harold Huber ... Guiseppe
Eric Stanley Eric Stanley ... Ritter
Paul Harvey ... Mr. Whitewood
Bobby Jordan ... Douglas Fairbanks Rosenbloom
Joe Downing Joe Downing ... Innocence
Margaret Hamilton ... Mrs. Cagle
George E. Stone ... Kirk
Bert Hanlon Bert Hanlon ... Sad Sam
Edit

Storyline

Remy Marco, Prohibition beer baron, figures he'll do even better after repeal. Only trouble is, his beer tastes terrible. (He drinks no beer himself and nobody dares tell him). Four years later, when he's about bankrupt, he visits his summer home in Saratoga, complete with: 1) a dead-end-kid orphan; 2) his daughter's fiance...a state trooper!, 3) the bodies of four gangsters who planned to ambush Remy but had a shootout; 4) half a million in loot they hid in the house...just the amount Remy needs to get out of hock. The comic confusion mounts... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Riotous Satire on Racketeering! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 March 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bare et lite mord See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the original theatrical trailer, Edward G. Robinson as himself, talks to Mark Hellinger about this, his forthcoming picture. See more »

Goofs

When Remy drinks from the glass of beer from which Whitewood drank, there is inexplicably more beer in the glass. See more »

Quotes

Nora Marco: Why isn't he in B-E-D?
Douglas Fairbanks Rosenbloom: Because I want more to E-A-T, you old C-O-W.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight?)
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Bernard Hanighen
Played offscreen on piano at the party while Remy and Nora are alone talking
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Diversifying After Prohibition
12 May 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

A Slight Case of Murder had its origins on the Broadway stage where this play by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay flopped miserably with only 69 performances in the 1935 season. It certainly adapted better for the screen when Warner Brothers bought it for one of their gangster stable, in this case Edward G. Robinson.

The story concerns a gangster Remy Marko who is trying to go straight and get out of the bootleg beer racket now that Prohibition has been repealed. It was a problem faced by any number of people who were not Lucky Luciano or Meyer Lansky.

In Robinson's case he's decided to go legitimate and brew beer legally. Of course no one has the heart to tell him that the stuff he's been peddling for years has been nothing but swill, not even his family, Ruth Donnelly and Jane Bryan, nor his closest associates Allen Jenkins, Harold Huber, and Ed Brophy.

While all this is going Robinson and the family and friends go to his summer home near the Saratoga racetrack where a big robbery of the bookie's money has taken place. This was in the days before the para-mutual machines and track bets were taken at the sight by legal bookmakers. The gang decides to hide out in what they think will be Robinson's deserted home.

Daughter Jane Bryan is romancing state trooper Willard Parker, a prospect the going straight Robinson still finds appalling. No less so than Paul Harvey, Parker's nervous blue-blood father.

All these elements mix well for a very funny screen comedy. Robinson who was really getting tired of all the gangster parts, seems to be enjoying himself, referring to himself constantly in the third person, and earning quite a few laughs and keeping up with some of the best scene stealers around. Ruth Donnelly keeps up very well who most of the time remembers she's now supposed to be respectable, but every so often slips back to her familiar background.

The guy who really is funny here is Paul Harvey. He's mixing with people he's not used to and it's putting quite an evident strain on him.

One of the running gags in A Slight Case of Murder is how bad the beer Robinson makes. He never drinks himself so he doesn't know and no one is brave enough to tell him. Damon Runyon who probably sampled every kind of illegal liquor available during Prohibition, knew well the kind of rot gut that was peddled. The classier places imported stuff from across the border, but the dives used whatever they could get. Marko's lousy beer was something drinking people during Prohibition knew well from. A Slight Case of Murder is one of the few films that ever dealt with that fact albeit in a comic way.

Though the plot situations are certainly dated, the talent of this very good cast is timeless.


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