The Big Brain (1933)

Passed   |    |  Drama


The Big Brain (1933) Poster

The story of a ruthless small time crook's rise from lowly barber shop backroom bookie to high stakes international swindler. Max Werner (Stone) goes from the gambling to crooked stocks and... See full summary »


5.2/10
16

Photos

  • Fay Wray in The Big Brain (1933)
  • George E. Stone and Fay Wray in The Big Brain (1933)
  • Phillips Holmes, George E. Stone, and Fay Wray in The Big Brain (1933)
  • Phillips Holmes, George E. Stone, and Fay Wray in The Big Brain (1933)
  • George E. Stone and Fay Wray in The Big Brain (1933)
  • Minna Gombell, Sam Hardy, and George E. Stone in The Big Brain (1933)

See all photos

Get More From IMDb

For an enhanced browsing experience, get the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review


User Reviews


5 January 2005 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
6
| Runyonesque runt.
The first time I saw the movie 'Guys and Dolls', with its chorus line of phony Damon Runyon gangsters, I noticed that one character didn't fit in with the rest of the mob: a petty crook named Society Max, played by a runty little actor named George E Stone. His part was undersized (like the actor himself), yet he seemed to be in a completely different movie from everyone else. 'Where'd they find this guy?' I wondered. 'Couldn't they have found someone who fit in with the rest of the cast?' But I noticed Stone, and as I learnt more about this actor I understood why he didn't fit in: because George E Stone was the genuine article in a crowd full of fakes. In real life, Stone was a drinking buddy of Damon Runyon and more than a few gangsters. If Stone's screen portrayals of petty crooks didn't fit the Hollywood template, that's because he based his performances on reality, instead of reinforcing cinema stereotypes.

'The Big Brain', a low-budget second feature, gives Stone a rare chance at a leading role, though he's playing a little man in the figurative sense as well as the literal one. Max Werner (Stone) is a runty egotist who fancies he's catnip to the ladies. A confidence trickster named Sam Ryan is impressed with Werner's nerve, and gives him a job as a bonds salesman ... selling fake bonds. Werner decides he likes being a crook, but the bond racket is getting too hot for him, so he scarpers to England (courtesy of some unconvincing RKO set design and stock shots), and starts swindling the milords and the miladies. But then Werner meets a pretty woman who seems to be attracted to him. Does she actually see something in this guy, or has she got a cute angle that he's too obtuse to notice?

George E Stone's sheer talent and personality go a considerable way towards putting this over, but he's seriously undercut by the fact that the English characters in this movie are all very implausible stereotypes of the 'I say, old boy' variety ... despite the presence of a couple of genuine Brits in the cast. The movie's pacing is poor, the direction is weak, and some camera set-ups are downright annoying. The script is more than slightly amusing, but the ending manages to be both contrived and obvious. SPOILER: The lady who seems to love Werner is really just a decoy to get him arrested. Robert Emmett O'Connor (the second-team William Frawley), who played sour-faced detectives in several other movies, repeats that turn here ... and his presence is welcome, even though O'Connor doesn't do anything here that he didn't do better in 'A Night at the Opera'. Lucien Littlefield is amusing in a supporting role. Littlefield was a sorely underrated performer, who was so protean that most viewers don't realise his wide range of portrayals were all the same actor. Phillips Holmes gives his usual neurasthenic effeminate performance. Fans of Fay Wray will see nothing special here. Mostly from the pleasure I got in seeing George E Stone play a lead role, I'll rate this weak movie 6 points out of 10.

Critic Reviews


More Like This

Shanghai Madness

Shanghai Madness

Woman in the Dark

Woman in the Dark

Black Moon

Black Moon

The Woman I Stole

The Woman I Stole

Master of Men

Master of Men

Mystery of the Wax Museum

Mystery of the Wax Museum

Doctor X

Doctor X

The Countess of Monte Cristo

The Countess of Monte Cristo

Ann Carver's Profession

Ann Carver's Profession

The Vampire Bat

The Vampire Bat

Below the Sea

Below the Sea

One Sunday Afternoon

One Sunday Afternoon

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama

Details

Release Date:

5 August 1933

Language

English


Country of Origin

USA

This Week on TV: "The Flash," "Limetown," and More

Plan your week of TV watching with our list of all the new originals, adaptations, and "double" features you can't miss.

Watch our video

Featured on IMDb

Check out the action from New York Comic Con check out what IMDb editors are watching this month, and more.

Around The Web

 | 

Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on Amazon.com