23 January 2007 | aimless-46
Maria Theresa 'Terry' O'Reilly
Is a fine Irish-American girl whose strangely Italian (?) brother (named Sonny "Dinkie" Black) runs Detroit's Purple Gang. At least they are both Catholic. Beginning inside a prison, the film introduces the immortal Chester Morris as an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates the gang and falls for Terry (played by Jean Arthur).
They have a slick prison break sequence and a fair amount of action, romantic comedy, and Hollywood's on-going campaign to make G-Men public heroes. John Dillinger had been killed a few months before "Public Hero #1" went into production, they change the names and the city but recreate the events of his apprehension outside a theater.
Forgotten actor Joseph Calleia plays the gang boss and brother. He has the most challenging role and does a fine job portraying a multi-dimensional character. Lionel Barrymore gets to overact nicely as a perpetually drunk mob doctor.
"Public Hero #1" is a surprisingly good film. It's mix of genres is as strange as it sounds but that works in its favor if you like to get away from standard formula stories. While it lacks overall unity, the disparate pieces are quite well done and are very entertaining inside their own little compartments.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.