23 December 2009 | blanche-2
Warner Bros gangster film
"You Can't Get Away with Murder" is a 1939 film starring Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, Billy Halop, Henry Travers, John Litel, and Harvey Stephens. Bogart is still on his way up the star ladder - in his case, it was a long climb to 1941's "High Sierra" with lots of supporting parts, mostly as gangsters. Here he's the star, but this isn't a big film.
It is, however, a tense one with good performances. Bogart plays the meaner than dirt Frank Wilson, a criminal who takes advantage of the young, trusting Johnny Stone (Halop), a basically good kid being raised by his sister Madge. She becomes engaged to Fred, a cop who is being transferred to a better job in Boston. He plans on marrying Madge and bringing Johnny with them to Boston, where he's lined up work for him. But when a botched robbery leads to Frank committing murder, he frames Fred for it. Fred winds up on death row while Johnny and Frank serve sentences for another crime. Frank is afraid Johnny will rat him out in order to save Fred.
Bogart does a great job as Frank - he's easy to hate. Billy Halop for me was a bit overdone as Johnny, but he really kept you guessing as to what he would do. Halop was one of the Dead End Kids who sought a career on his own. He was mainly in B movies and finally in small parts, eventually seguing into television. He also worked as a salesman and, at the end of his life, a male nurse. Beset with marital, alcohol, and financial problems, he died at the age of 56.
It's impressive to look at Bogart's pre-stardom career and see how long it took him to break away from the pack - 11 years and 42 films. Well, he was certainly worth waiting for.