4 August 2008 | the_mysteriousx
Chester Morris in a Roland West film
This film is available on Alpha Video in a decent print and is most noteworthy as the final film of Roland West's career. He made three sound films, all with Chester Morris in the lead. This is also the least popular and in some ways the least artistic of the three. An additional behind-the-scenes interest of this film, is that Thelma Todd is the female lead, billed as "Alison Loyd" in an obvious attempt to distinguish her as a dramatic actress. She is fine in the film, but has a rather skimpy part.
The plot involves a young man who has just graduated from college who begins to work on Wall Street after being teased by Todd's character and clashes with his boss, who is her father. To prove his point and to get revenge, he becomes a modern day pirate, stealing liquor from illegal shipments at sea. Chester Morris is excellent in the role of John Hawkes, the young man.
Some great sharp camera angles and one very dark, sinister scene involving "Fish Face" and a female, Sophie, do not entirely make up for the fact that this film does not advance the techniques of film-making as ALIBI and THE BAT WHISPERS did. West's combination of editing with sound effects and music in ALIBI were a revelation in early 1929. And with THE BAT WHISPERS, he took miniature work to a new level in sound films with his 'bat's eye' camera moves through the cities and towns. CORSAIR seems rather routine in comparison.
That is not to say this is not a good little gangster film. Fred Kohler is solid as the bootlegger, Big John, and Ned Sparks along with Mayo Methot are great in support. The editing is crisp and the overall film has the dark touches you would expect from Roland West. It still holds up as one of the more effective gangster films of the early 1930s.