The final volume of this series finally clocks in and it is heavy on the Edward G.Robinson,and that is definitely a good thing.I am glad Warner's has put these titles out there for our enjoyment and re-assessment of his considerable acting talents.
"The Amazing Dr.Clitterhouse",released in July of /38(4-4 1/2 stars),stars Edward G.Robinson as Dr Clitterhouse.He is a well educated and spoken physician/surgeon in the city with a flourishing practice.But the good doctor,as the picture opens,has just committed his fourth robbery by heisting some jewels out of the upstairs safe of a friends home.The doctor has immersed himself into criminology,specificially the study of criminals,their behaviour and reactions of same.The fence he finds for his takings is one Joe Keller(Claire Trevor) and her head man Rocks Valentine(Bogart).He ingratiates himself into Joe's favour and he joins the gang for a period of six weeks to study them in depth for his research and an eventual book;he does blood work,takes blood pressure readings and their reactions to light,stress,etc.Rocks doesn't like Clitterhouse and tries at one point to kill him;unsuccessfully.The six weeks come and go and the doctor leaves but Rocks learns the doctors location,confiscates his research and wants to use his office as his front.Clitterhouse is backed into a corner and kills Rocks.He is found out and put on trial.With a top lawyer friend for his defense,and in spite of almost blowing his own case,the doctor gets off with an insanity plea.
The screenplay co-written by future director John Huston is an engrossing one and Robinson is on top of his game in this film.Bogie also turns in a powerful and menacing performance as Rocks.
"Invisible Stripes",released in December/39,(3 1/2 stars),stars George Raft as Cliff Taylor,William Holden as his brother Tim,and Bogart as Chuck Martin .Cliff and Chuck are jail mates and get released on the same day.Cliff vows to go straight while Chuck is just as determined to go back to crime.Cliff finds the life of an ex-con a tough one,with very few people willing to give him a break.Brother Tim longs to give he and his sweetheart a decent life but can't.Cliff ends up back into crime thanks to the help of his old pen mate Chuck,to make some easy dough.When he has enough he quits.But after a botched robbery Chuck hides out in Tims new business and gets him implicated with the gang.He's arrested and Cliff has no choice but to confront Chuck then go back to jail and force his brother to tell the police the real story.When he returns to try and help Chuck out of his jam both get caught in the pursuing gangs gunfire and get killed.
This film is an enjoyable one with Raft doing a nice turn as the big brother and Bogie turns on the menace as Chuck.This was only Holden's second major screen appearance;another star on the rise.
"Kid Galahad",released in May/37,(3 1/2-4 stars),
stars Edward G.Robinson as fight owner Nick Donati.His right hand "man" is Louise Phillips(Bette Davis).Together for years,they have owned,promoted,trained and fought several potential fighters but none have gotten very far.One day during a party one Ward Guisenberry(Wayne Morris),a new bellhop,comes into their lives.Showing potential Nick trains the now named,Kid Galahad,towards becoming the next world champion;something Nick and Louise have always wanted.The Kid develops a crush on Louise but she keeps things strictly business.Over time while Louises' affection turns to love it is too late as the Kid has fallen in love with Nick's sister.The Kid goes on to a title bout with his rival Chuck McGraw(William Haade) managed by Turkey Morgan(Bogart).Nick double crosses Turkey on the betting and the bout and when the Kid wins Turkey is out for blood.Both Turkey and Nick die in a shoot out.
A pleasant film with Robinson turning in another boffo performance along with Bogie,playing that menacing thing to a tee.
"Larceny,Inc.",released in May/42(3 1/2-4 stars),stars Edward G.Robinson as "Pressure Maxwell",a just released con who is smart and a natural born salesman.While in the "jug" Pressure was asked by fellow con Leo(Anthony Quinn) if he wanted to go in on a bank job with him when he got out.Pressure said no as he was going straight and all was forgotten.Pressure,with his two sidekicks Weepy(Ed Brophy) and Jug(Broderick Crawford),attend the very same bank Leo approached Pressure about to ask for a legitimate loan.They refuse and he gets angry.He buys a luggage shop next door whose basement backs onto the banks' vault.They start digging but continually get interrupted either by salesmen or legit customers.Leo makes a jail break and finds Pressure and the boys muscling in on his plan.Leo gets through to the vault but is apprehended by the cops trying to esacpe.All ends well with popular Pressure now a legitmate and well loved local business man with many lofty plans.
"Larceny,Inc" has gotten alot more airplay on TV in recent years because the time takes place around Christmas.Jane Wyman stars as a ward of Pressures',Jack Carson is Jane's beau and watch for a young Jackie Gleason as the soda jerk in his sixth film.
The last film is "The Little Giant",released in May/33(3 stars),and it stars Edward G. as Bugs Ahearn,a Chicago beer baron whose job comes to an end as swiftly as Prohibition does.He quits it and moves west with his good pal Al(Russell Hopton).There they check into the fanciest hotel($45 a day!)as Bugs seeks out the hoi poloi.But he soon finds he continually gets nothing but the high hat from everyone.When he leaves one Polly Cass(Helen Vinson) finally steps forward to put her claws into him.In fact before the film is through the entire family has gotten into the act of fleecing Bugs.His father does the coup de gras when he sells him a fraudulent bond company lock,stock and barrel.When he realizes he's been taken,Bugs recalls the old gang who come out and put the squeeze on the entire Cass family to get his money back.Bugs falls for the keeper of the house he retained,one Ruth Wayburn(Mary Astor) as they head off to better things.
This film unfortunately plods along at a most stodgy pace and it doesn't get interesting until the last 20 minutes.By then it's too late to get the bad taste from the previous minutes,out of your mouth.However the film does have a memorable quote though;Bugs shows Al a painting-"Have you ever seen anything like it?","No,not since I stopped using cocaine".
The last DVD in this set consists of a 2008 Warners documentary called "Public Enemies-The Golden Age of the Gangster Film".It is about 105 minutes long and contains a mini history lesson both on film itself and the origins and subsequent rise of the gangsters genre of films.To some much of the information contained is well known but to others it will serve as a kind of gangsters-101 course that is well worth taking a look at.The film clips used date all the way back to the late 1890s,through the silent era and forward and are wonderful to see;many of them in their original tint.I had never seen "The Great Train Robbery" that way and it was fascinating.There are a myriad of well known and lesser known film critics on board and extensive interviews with many of the old films' writers,directors and actors.Also included are four Warners cartoons spanning 20 years from 1933 to 1953,all in good condition.However,if I had had my druthers,I would have liked another movie in this set than this documentary,as there are no shortage of Warner's films like these that could have been included in its' stead.
Technically all the films,like the previous sets,have been remastered well and are generally crisp and clean.The sets all include a myriad of extras including trailers for the movies and others,lots of vintage cartoons,vintage newsreel clips and shorts(some great stuff here) and the usual commentary by this critic and that.
One last note.Watching these films will have brought to your attention many actors you will have seen either repeatedly in them and/or in other things in later years.Names such as:Marc Lawrence,Jane Bryon,Tully Marshall,Dick Foran,Ward Bond,Henry Travers,Cecil Kellaway,Charles Lane,George E.Stone,Arthur Byron,Henry O'Neil,Leslie Fenton,Frank McHugh,Arthur Kennedy,Barton MacLaine,Victor Jory,Regis Toomey,Ed Pawley,Sterling Holloway, and so many,many more.Many of these actors would go on to more exposure in later years in television,while others would remain just in the movie business.All are stand outs as solid supporting players for the bigger stars through many,many years working in Warners and other studios.Seeing the same actors in different projects over the years was one of the things that got me interested in movies when I was young.Watching them,getting to know who they were and getting to know more about them.If YOU have an interest in movies old or new,this is a great way to get started.May I respectfully suggest you look up these people either in books or on the internet.Without good talent in the background,there is no talent in the foreground.