12 April 2001 | marcslope
Riches from Poverty Row
In a trim and workmanlike 70 minutes, we get barnstorming theatricals, an unfaithful wife, a bastard child, a hotel fire, a circus fire, a speakeasy brawl, and crackling pre-Code dialogue, including this reminiscence from an ex-roustabout: "Why, when I was with the circus, if you had only one black eye they thought you was a pansy!" Victor Schertzinger achieves some resourceful directorial tricks, not always placing the camera where you expect and injecting some expressionistic touches. The cast is game, with Claire Windsor a particular delight as the rotten, selfish wife who gets bumped off in the second reel.
It's a Poverty Row epic -- from Tiffany Studios, to be precise -- but it has what they used to call moxie. And the quick pace and unflinching Depression milieu recall Warners-First National at its best.