“I like the troubles of bootleggers, chorus girls and head waiters. They’re human! They’re alive!”
After successfully defending a racketeer (Nat Pendleton) against a murder charge, a thrill-seeking lawyer (Warner Baxter) is ostracized by his co-workers and his fiancee (Martha Sleeper), who leaves him for another man (Phillips Holmes). When Holmes breaks up with his mistress (Mae Clarke), Clarke licks her wounds by returning to her former lover, a gangster (C. Henry Gordon) who is more upset about Clarke’s betrayal than he lets on. Soon Baxter becomes an amateur sleuth in a murder mystery, assisted by Clarke’s beautiful roommate (Myrna Loy).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Myrna Loy Films
- Warner Baxter Films
- W.S. Van Dyke Films
W.S. Van Dyke — perhaps best known for helming The Thin Man and its sequels — helped bring Myrna Loy to stardom in this earlier “take” on the same genre (comedic murder-mystery). Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s Pre-Code script is refreshingly risque: Loy’s character openly accepts (indeed, encourages) an invitation to spend the night in Baxter’s apartment, for instance, and this isn’t viewed as shameful. Baxter, Loy, Pendleton, and Clarke are all in fine form, and it’s refreshing to see such an atypical relationship between a gangster (Pendleton) and a “straight man” (Baxter). This one’s not must-see, but certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of The Thin Man.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Myrna Loy as Gertie Waxted
- Warner Baxter as Jackson Durant
- Nat Pendleton as Tony Gazotti
- Mae Clarke as Mimi
- Enjoyable Pre-Code dialogue and situations
No, but it’s certainly worthy viewing.