12 April 2016 | dougdoepke
It Ain't The Thin Man
It's a Powell showcase as he transitions from obscure gentlemanly lawyer to high-powered legal-eagle. Corruption is rife in Adam's (Powell) big city. After crossing head racketeer Gilmurry (Landau), Adam loses his standing in a respectable legal firm. So he decides to play the game their crooked way, and does so with maximo success, using people for his own ends. Only his intensely loyal and lovelorn secretary (Blondell) sticks with his ruthless climb.
There's not much patented Powell charm here. Instead, he moves abruptly from quiet reserve to ruthless assertion, becoming a not very likable character in the process. Surprisingly for Warner Bros. and a gangster theme, there's no machine gun splatter or snarling thugs. Instead of city streets, criminal conduct here is more civilized, taking place in office suites and judicial chambers. Still, the shenanigans can't be taken too seriously since comedy relief pops in and out. The movie's real suspense lies in wondering how Adam's turnaround will end. In short, what sort of reckoning will there be. Can't say I was happy with the resolution that unfortunately retreats from 30's pre-Code toughness. It's like the Code is already in effect. All in all, the movie's not very memorable despite presence of two of the studio's leading performers—maybe because they're playing somewhat outside their strong suits.