25 October 2012 | JohnHowardReid
Nigh at well-nigh his best!
One of the problems I encounter with most reference books, is that they ignore the products of Poverty Row – unless of course they have amassed a large cult following. So you won't find "City Limits" in any of the must-see reference books. A pity, because this Monogram comedy comes as a great surprise. The players, led by now under-rated Frank Craven – Craven had a fair-sized cult following fifty years ago, but it now seems to have evaporated – are not only extremely personable, but all give such a good account of the script that few viewers will notice the complete absence of background music. Not to over-emphasize the point, the cast is one of the best Monogram ever assembled. James Burke and Jimmy Conlin are especially delightful as a couple of well-spoken tramps, whilst George "Gabby" Hayes is commendably unrecognizable without his beard and his phony voice.
Also deserving of unstinted praise is the photography of Jerry Ash, which seems astonishingly "modern" and crisp. It also includes some excellent location work. As for William Nigh's well-paced direction, for once we can well believe that in the late 1920s, Nigh was a highly regarded, top-flight director of prestige, top-budget pictures starring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's most prestigious talents including Joan Crawford, Lon Chaney, Ramon Novarro, and John Gilbert.