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SECRET SIX, THE (director: George W. Hill; screenwriter: Frances Marion; cinematographer: Harold Wenstrom; editor: Blanche Sewell; cast: Wallace Beery (Louis Scorpio), Lewis Stone (Richard Newton), John Mack Brown (Hank Rogers), Jean Harlow (Anne Courtland), Marjorie Rambeau (Peaches), Paul Hurst (Nick Mizoski), Clark Gable (Carl Luckner), Ralph Ralph Bellamy (Johnny Franks), John Miljan (Smiling Joe Colimo), DeWitt Jennings(Chief Donlin), Murray Kinnell (Dummy Metz), Fletcher Norton (Jimmy Delano), Theodore Von Eltz (DA), Frank McGlynn (Judge), Louis Natheaux (Eddie); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George W. Hill; MGM; 1931)
Rising star Clark Gable impressed the MGM studio bosses so much in this gangster pic, they gave him a long-term contract.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rising star Clark Gable impressed the MGM studio bosses so much in this gangster pic, they gave him a long-term contract. Director George W. Hill(“Min and Bill”/”The Big House”)keeps it blazing away with action. It’s written byFrances Marion.

It’s set during the Prohibition era, in the small town of Centro. Bootlegger/cafe owner Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy) recruits crude slaughterhouse worker Louis Scorpio (Wallace Beery) to join his gang, which is masterminded by the aristocratic alcoholic crooked criminal defense lawyer Richard Newton (Lewis Stone). Soon the ruthless Scorpio knocks off his rival Franks and runs the gang for the dissolute Newton. The gang violently takes over speakeasies run bySmiling Joe Colimo (John Miljan), and Scorpio becomes a wealthy and powerful figure in town.The gang pays off bribes to get its stoogeNick Mizoski (Paul Hurst) elected mayor.

Rival newspaper reporters Hank Rogers (Johnny Mack Brown) and Carl Luckner (Clark Gable) investigate with help from “The Secret Six,” a group of businessmen eager to fight crimeby any means at their disposal.Things turn for the gang when they rub-out Hank, he’s the mugthat Scorpio’s moll, with a golden heart, Anne Courtland (Jean Harlow), fell for and tried to help. She testifies against Scorpio at his murder trial, but Newton bribed the jury and they render an astonishing innocent verdict. With that the Secret Six have retrieved evidence of corruption and income tax invasion against the gang, and under Chief Donlin they raid their steak-house headquarters and either kill or arrest the entire gang.

This marked Jean Harlow’s first of six times she teamed with Clark Gable (Red Dust (1932), Hold Your Man (1933), China Seas (1935), Wife Vs. Secretary (1936) and Saratoga (1937)).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”