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  • Regis Toomey was one of the most reliable leading men of early 1930's Poverty Row, and he continued to appear in films and television well into the 1960's. His friendly persona always made him sympathetic, even when playing an ex-con, and he was convincing in any number of different roles and situations. Here he is paired with the great former silent comedian Snub Pollard, in what must be one of his largest roles of the sound era (along with his roles as sidekick to Tex Ritter), as a pickpocket/safe cracker. Directed by journeyman Al Herman, who helmed many films I've enjoyed over the years (Phantom of 42nd Street, and the serials The Clutching Hand, and The Black Coin), for Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures, BARS OF HATE (an irrelevant title if there ever was one--there is someone behind bars, but he is only mentioned and never seen, although his situation motivates the plot) is the model poverty row action film: it starts out in high gear and keeps moving throughout. This formula still works today--I recently saw CELLULAR with a full theater, and crowd completely ate up a similar combination of non-stop action tempered with light comedy. The films begins with a montage of faces yelling out "stop" and "get him" after Snub Pollard steals a woman's pocketbook. Simultaneously, Regis Toomey is speeding and starts to evade a policeman who puts on his siren and follows on a motorcycle. Snub breaks from those attempting to restrain him, Regis cuts down an alley, and soon enough the two men are together. It turns out that the pocketbook contains something that various criminals are after, so when Toomey and Pollard find the girl to give her the purse, the crooks are also after her... and the next forty minutes are spent with one chase and escape after another, much of it filmed on the streets of Los Angeles. Fuzzy Knight does a nice job as a bumbling crook assigned to watch Snub Pollard, and Sheila Terry (best known to many for the two westerns she made with John Wayne in 1934) is a perky female lead. One correction, though...Robert Warwick plays the governor, and he's only in it for about three minutes at the end. While rather loose and spontaneous in structure and feel, this film moves along at a quick pace and never really lets up from the first scene. It's almost a model of how to make a poverty row action film-- if it had more stunts and less dialogue from the leading man, it could be a Richard Talmadge film! I especially liked seeing Snub Pollard being given such a large and significant role. One of the joys of watching 1930s movies is never knowing exactly when Snub will show up in a scene, more often than not it seems unbilled! His many fans should seek this film out. The print I saw was in excellent shape had a lot of splices in the last three or four minutes, but looked like it was shot yesterday.
  • Report from 2006 Cinesation: BARS OF HATE (***) A letter will exonerate a man on Death Row; the governor is unreachable on a hunting trip; a deputy district attorney races to where he's supposed to be-- but so do the real killers. Sound exciting, even for a 1934 Sam Katzman cheapie? Well, it would be if it weren't totally nuts, a sort of screwball-programmer which gives over much of its running time (at least the part that isn't already stock footage) to Snub Pollard as a pickpocket who becomes deputy DA Regis Toomey's best buddy (for no reason that will be psychologically recognizable to anyone who has ever met a human being) and even gets to dress in women's clothing. Fun enough in its preposterous, Dada-screenplay way that it could become Cinesation's answer to Cinecon's legendary good-bad choice, Sh! The Octopus.
  • "Bars of Hate" is very low budget B-movie. And, while I'll quickly admit that the plot was a bit silly and had quite a few plot holes, I still found I enjoyed watching it. Much of this might be because of Snub Pollard's strange character--he certainly was one of the more unusual sidekicks I've ever seen.

    The film begins very oddly. The cops are chasing a guy in a sedan. Along the way, the driver stops to pick up a guy being beaten up by a crowd! When the cop finally stops the car, it turns out the driver (Regis Toomey) is with the District Attorney's office--and the guy he picked up (Pollard) is a purse-snatcher who was being beaten up after he was caught lifting a purse. The cop lets them go and soon, VERY inexplicably, Toomey and Pollard become friends. And, throughout the film Pollard springs to the assistance of his new friend. Now seeing Pollard in this almost action hero role was wild, as he made a career out of playing in silent comedies and being a comedic sidekick in B-westerns. Odd--but also quite endearing.

    The two men soon come upon a young lady in distress. It seems that a gang is trying to stop her from bringing the Governor evidence that her brother is innocent and should NOT be executed. Yup, the guy is on death row and the lady just happens upon the DA. Here is where is makes no sense--why doesn't Toomey just make a few phone calls and have the police locate the Governor instead of he and the lady going on a breakneck chase (with the villains close behind) to see the man in person?! It doesn't make a lot of sense, but the film is breezy and enjoyable in a turn your brain off sort of way. A decent time-passer.