12 April 2017 | AlsExGal
It was much better than I expected
So last night I grabbed this one out of my stash of TCM recordings to relax to before going to sleep. It looked like it would be a solid but perhaps predictable B crime drama of revenge just based on its title.
And then I look at that cast. Robert Young, early in his career, first billed to 4th billed MGM stalwart Lewis Stone? This got me interested and kept me that way. This was one of the positives of the old studio system. The studios could build up a cast of players known for inhabiting a certain type of role and almost any writer and director could get the audience to "get" that character without too much sweat.
Robert Young plays broke law student Hank Sherman who gets a job loading produce. Unfortunately, he almost immediately runs afoul of the "Produce Delivery Protective Association" when he refuses to give them a percentage of his pay and they begin beating him. Along comes Eli Decker, owner of all of the warehouses on five blocks, in his limousine when he sees the sight. He gives chase to the gangsters with his cane and asks Hank if he would like a job as his chauffeur. Decker's driver ran away when he was asked to help stop the gangsters. I wonder how far he got in that neighborhood at night on foot in a chauffeur's outfit? At any rate I thought I could see where this film was going completely. I was wrong. Wealthy Eli Decker is on a crusade against the very profitable rackets, and he has the ear of all the right people. Florence Rice plays Peg Gattle, Decker's beautiful young employee that Hank has instant eyes for. Lewis Stone plays Dr. Gattle -as in M.D. - who spends twelve years wrongfully imprisoned thanks to the head of the rackets, until Decker gets him out. He's also Peg's dad. In prison Dr. Gattle has figured out who the head of the rackets is and is helping the D.A. and Decker. Meanwhile Hank's brother is training a new fighter played by Nat Pendleton who plays his usual thick headed muscle bound and completely likable good natured character.
So who is the sworn enemy of the title? I won't tell you, but I will tell you that the head of the rackets and all of the men living off of them are not going down without a fight even if it means murder. Also, the original plan that the D.A. has for bringing down the rackets has to be changed mid-film- actually a couple of times. There is a robbery gone wrong, Joseph Calleia as the crippled head gangster whose penthouse has a swell view of dancing girls using their legs like he never could who you could ALMOST feel sorry for if he wasn't such a cold blooded killer, John Wray as the head man's number two guy who seems to delight in violence, a hidden vault full of racketeer money that must be found, and finally, maybe Nat Pendleton's fighter isn't that thick after all.
A rousing good crime film with lots of tension, melodrama, and even some comedy, and a great early role for Robert Young, who, when he isn't chasing the girl with what seem like tired pick-up lines is very good here.