Beast of the City, The (1932)

“Mind if I ask you some questions?”

Movie Poster

Synopsis:
Police Captain Jim Fitzpatrick (Walter Huston) is determined to nab crime boss Sam Belmonte (Jean Hersholt), but finds his loyalties tested when his detective brother (Wallace Ford) betrays the force for a beautiful moll (Jean Harlow).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary points out, this “tribute to the honest cop” — a “super early crime drama” — is “sharply written”, “forcefully directed”, “briskly paced”, and contains a truly “startling finale”. It’s an excellent example of pre-Hays-Code filmmaking, with Harlow and Ford sitting on a (full-sized!) bed together, and much of Harlow’s dialogue highly suggestive. While the ending is melodramatic and rather unrealistic, it neatly wraps up what is essentially a morality tale in noir clothing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jean Harlow’s sexy, strong performance as wise-cracking Daisy
    Jean Harlow
  • Smart dialogue
    Hallway Dialogue
  • Exciting action sequences
    Finale
  • Mickey Rooney in an early role as Fitzpatrick’s son, “Mickey”
    Mickey Rooney
  • Edward Brophy’s over-the-top courtroom performance
    Courtroom Scene

Must See?
Yes. This early crime drama deserves wider recognition.

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One Response to “Beast of the City, The (1932)”

  1. First viewing. Not a must, though interesting for historical reasons.

    It’s earnest and competently done yet simultaneously (usu. in the writing) stodgy and somewhat self-conscious. At least that’s how it comes off now.

    Things kick in more 2/3 through when bro Ford goes bad – it’s a great moment when Huston almost strangles him.

    Though the performances are generally solid, Huston and Harlow do stand out. I do wish Harlow had been given more than a meager few zippy lines – her character seems to be screaming for them.

    One wonders what Frank Serpico would think of Huston’s character…

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