20 January 2013 | AlsExGal
Interesting early talkie gangster film
I give this 7/10 stars when compared with other early talking films. The dialogue flows well and it has an interesting plot with a few interesting footnotes. First off, the three Irish-American O'Farrell brothers are played by three Irish American brothers - Tom, Owen, and Matt Moore. Jimmy (Tom Moore) is a cop, John (Matt Moore) is an emergency room doctor, and Dennis (Owen Moore) tells his family he is a businessman when actually he is a big time gangster and bootlegger. Another footnote - look closely when Dennis O'Farrell is in his speakeasy. That is George Raft dancing to "Take a Look at Her Now" as the chorus girls back him up. Other than a couple of throw-away lines, though, that is all Raft does in the entire film. Finally, Emma Dunn, who plays Nora O'Farrell, mother of the three boys, is anywhere from only nine to 14 years older than the actors that play her sons yet does indeed look and act old enough to be their mother.
The story moves slowly at first - the older O'Farrells are proud of their three boys as they all sit down to dinner. It appears that the older O'Farrells are retired and probably their sons are supporting them in their old age, as was the custom at the time. Dennis has a completely different name that he is known as when he is living his "other life" as a criminal. His criminal associates do not know his real name or his origin in order to shield his family from any criminal reprisals. Likewise he has one brother - the cop - who wants to hunt his criminal alias down and arrest him, and another brother that is constantly seeing the emergency cases that are the results of his gang's shootouts. Thus Dennis has a lot of balls in the air and can never let his guard down. However he is managing to keep this juggling act going until the night that one drunk at his speakeasy cracks another drunk in the head and the doctor sent from the hospital is his brother John, and one of the girls that visits the speakeasy that same night with her friend turns out to be the girl that his brother Jimmy plans to marry.
Notice that what makes it possible for Dennis and all other 20's gangsters to become rich - Prohibition - isn't taken seriously by anyone. When Dennis brings a bottle of good booze to his parents' house as a gift on Thanksgiving, his dad and his friend have no problem with getting sauced even with dad's son the cop in the house who just smiles and finds the whole situation amusing.
I'd recommend this one if you have even the slightest interest in and tolerance for the early talking films. It is actually entertaining and not just a curio and shows what RKO had a talent for in its earliest days - showing rather ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances.