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  • Club owner and racketeer Akim Tamiroff wants Claire Trevor, but she doesn't want him. He rents her an expensive apartment, and tells her that she can decide if he's worth the high life. Meanwhile, newspaperman Lloyd Nolan is on her mind. When Claire's former room mate, Helen Burgess, disappears, she calls Nolan, even as the trail begins to run to Tamiroff in this solid drama.

    Given the cast and plot, you'd think this was a Fox B, but it's a Paramount programmer directed by Robert Florey, with the sort of gloss that studio can provide. Cinematographer Harry Fishbeck shoots Miss Trevor so she looks like a blonde Myrna Loy, and Tamiroff looks as oily as ever. Evelyn Brent has slid to the bottom of the credited list, and Louise Brooks' scenes were deleted, but this one moves fast once it gets going.
  • Akim Tamiroff plays the title role in King Of Gamblers and truth be told the way Tamiroff does it, it ain't gambling. He's a racketeer who places slot machines in venues not necessarily willing to have one. The film opens with a bomb thrown into a barber shop which has replaced Tamiroff's machine with another mob's. Some kids playing outside the shop are killed and the heat goes on.

    But that's nothing compared to the heat that nightclub singer Claire Trevor brings to Tamiroff. She's been going out with him and he's set her up real nice in a swank apartment. But the death of Helen Burgess, Trevor's former roommate along with Harvey Stephens the guy Burgess married who was involved in Tamiroff's rackets sets her on a quest for vengeance. Trevor is aided and abetted by Lloyd Nolan a crusading reporter for Porter Hall's newspaper.

    During the late Thirties and early Forties Tamiroff was under contract to Paramount and played some really good villains and cutthroat types although he could do comedy as well. In King Of Gamblers he's one crafty dude and his fall from power was quite accidental.

    One thing that was haunting was Helen Burgess's death scene, it was eerie in its prescience. Burgess did only four films for Paramount and later in 1937 she died of lobar pneumonia. Seeing her on her deathbed was unintentionally kind of freaky. There's a story with Burgess that needs telling, I believe she was the inspiration for the dead actress played in flashback by Valli in Miracle Of The Bells.

    King Of Gamblers is a nicely paced B crime drama from Paramount which could have used some better editing. Still a good cast delivers the goods.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an above-average B crime drama that grabs you from the very beginning and does not let you go until the end. It shows how crime certainly does not pay, and how those who get away with it for so long ultimately pay in the end. It also shows the victims of crime, some of them innocent bystanders as evidenced in the very shocking opening scene where a barber shop owner announces he refused to give into a slot machine racket that is bullying him. The racket is led by the outstanding Akom Tamiroff, one of the Great character actors of all time whose strong and often charming racketeer is quite ruthless when crossed. We see that in his very first seen as to how he reacts with the employee who bombed the barbershop and killed innocent bystanders. He makes a play for beautiful nightclub singer Claire Trevor, giving an excellent performance as she becomes determined to expose the gambling ring for its evil when her old friend Helen Burgess pays dearly for crossing Tamiroff.

    Co-starring with Trevor is Lloyd Nolan, best known for later character performances but a leading man from the mid-1930s through the late 1940s. He is excellent throughout, particularly in a drunken scene where he bids on a kiss from Trevor only to refuse it. This film contains some shocking violence, pretty amazing for a post-code film, and obviously some of those scenes were later utilized in other films, the opening very similar to another opening scene 50 years later with "The Untouchables". Then there are two scenes involving an elevator that are quite shocking. Great character performances from familiar character actors like Porter Hall and Cecil Cunningham (quite deliciously sinister) helps this become a crime drama you won't soon forget.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS: Akim Tamiroff, Paramount's resident crime lord, runs all the illegal gambling activities in a major city. Reporter Lloyd Nolan struggles to get the goods on Tamiroff, but runs up against a stone wall until he meets sexy but tough nightclub singer Claire Trevor (obviously dubbed). Trevor is anxious to avenge the death of her innocent sister (Helen Burgess), who was done in by Tamiroff's henchmen. Though only a "B" picture budget, King of Gamblers was given "A" treatment by director Robert Florey. The film was part of an unofficial Paramount series based on the FBIs J. Edgar Hoover book Persons in Hiding.