“Sure, I’m legit. I’m in favor of law and order.”
At the end of Prohibition, a bootlegger (Edward G. Robinson) goes legit but struggles to sell his awful-tasting beer. As his business tanks, he goes more and more into debt, and soon owes nearly half a million dollars. Meanwhile, his daughter (Jane Bryan) becomes engaged to a state trooper (Willard Parker), and he must deal with four dead bodies that show up in his summer house after a local heist.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Black Comedy
- Edward G. Robinson Films
- Play Adaptation
- Social Climbers
Edward G. Robinson has great fun spoofing his infamous gangster persona in this light-hearted Warner Brothers satire, based on a play by Damon Runyon and Harold Lindsay. In an extended plot device that defies all logic, Robinson’s tee-totaling crime boss Remy Marco is so feared by his minions — and apparently by the world at large — that not a soul is willing to tell him how truly awful his bootleg beer is.
As a result, his post-Prohibition sales rapidly plummet over a period of several years, at which point Robinson — who has been eagerly embracing the opportunity to “go legit” and climb the social ladder — finds himself broke, but apparently not too broke to host a gala affair at his second house in the country, where all sorts of trouble ensues.
It’s silly, innocuous fun, with plenty of Damon Runyon’s distinctive dialogue thrown in to move things along at a zany clip. Ruth Donnelly is drolly amusing as Robinson’s wife, who struggles to affect an air of distinction befitting her new station, while Robinson is simply delightful. This one’s worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Edward G. Robinson as Remy Marco
- Ruth Donnelly as Mrs. Marco
- Consistently clever dialogue
Yes, for Robinson’s humorous performance
- Noteworthy Performance(s)