(director: George B. Seitz; screenwriters: story by Martin Mooney/Michael Fessier; cinematographer: Lester White; editor: Conrad Nervig; music: Edward Ward; cast: Franchot Tone (Dick Barton), Stu Erwin (Tim Higgins), Robert Barrat (Martin Werther), J. Farrell MacDonald(Michael Devlin), Madge Evans(Ann Devlin), J Carrol Naish (Steve Comos), Joseph Calleia (Ace Acello), Louise Henry (Tess Graham), Wade Boteler (O’Neal), Margaret Irving (Mrs. Higgins), Raymond Hatton (City Editor), Charles Trowbridge (James Witherspoon Sr. ), William Henry (James Witherspoon Jr. ); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lucien Hubbard; MGM/Warner Home Video; 1936-B/W)
“Simplistic anti-gangster film that mixes fact with fiction.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Simplistic anti-gangster film that mixes fact with fiction. The noted Andy Hardy director George B. Seitz (“Danger Lights”/”Kit Carson”) peps it up with a few fast-paced action scenes and gets some good performances, nevertheless it’s still forgettable. Michael Fessier adapts it from an exposé story by Martin Mooney.
The menacing Ace Acello (Joseph Calleia) runs an illegal numbers racket for his ruthless boss Werther (Robert Barrat). Ace got the idea from the Harlem racketeers. In the big city, they intimidate storekeepers to sell the numbers for them or else. One of those terrorized to work for them is kindly storekeeper Mike Devlin (J. Farrell MacDonald). When rivals try to get into the business, they’re executed. Mike’s daughter Ann (Madge Evans) appeals to crusading newspaper reporter Timothy Higgins (Stuart Erwin) for help. The reputable family man runs with the story and brings along the paper’s smooth society lawyer, Dick Barton (Franchot Tone). When the story hits the front page, Dick gets appointed by the governor to the city of New York as a special prosecutor and he tries to bring down the racketeers. But he must face such improbable dangers as parachuting down a burning ship and the gangsters kidnapping his fiancée Tess Graham (Louise Henry).
At best, it’s a tolerable newspaper drama. Though all the performances are solid, the tough guy one by Calleia gives it a needed sinister edge.
REVIEWED ON 8/23/2017 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/