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Mobster Movies: 8 Feature Films - Carole Lombard/Jack LaRue/Robert Armstrong [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections
  • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

Synopsis

Escape by Night
In this action-filled crime drama, a tough journalist relentlessly pursues a fleeing racketeer. When the gangster realizes that he is being pursued, he captures the reporter and then goes after his moll whom he suspects of ratting on him. The reporter escapes and rescues the girl. Meanwhile, the mobster is shot down in a police shoot-out. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Lady Gangster
The direction of Warner Bros.' Lady Gangster is credited to one "Florian Roberts," who on closer examination turns out to be veteran helmsman Robert Florey, working pseudonymously. Faye Emerson plays the title character, aspiring actress Dot Burton, whose chance association with a gang of bank robbers leads inexorably to a life of crime. She eventually ends up in prison, where she participates in a break-out. Her regeneration comes about when she rescues Kenneth Phillips (Frank Wilcox), the only man who has ever shown her any kindness, from being rubbed out by the mob. The supporting cast includes Julie Bishop (who only a year earlier had been billing herself as Jacqueline Wells), and Jackie "C." Gleason, wasted in the role of a rotund henchman. Lady Gangter bears some traces of the 1932 Warner Bros. drama The Life of Vergie Winters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gangster's Boy
Too old to play the cute MGM urchin any longer, 16-year-old Jackie Cooper signed with Monogram for a group of above-average programmers. Gangster's Boy was the second of this series, all of which followed a predestined pattern of shame and redemption. Young Cooper is a high-school honor student who is revealed to be the son of an ex-gangster (Robert Warwick). Shunned by former friends, Cooper nonetheless stands by his dad, defending him to a hostile community. Father and son eventually prevail over provincial bigotry, though Cooper seems happier about the whole thing than the ever-sullen Warwick (an actor better suited to the role of a business executive or Shakespearean ham). Sentimental to the nth degree, Gangster's Boy was a success, prompting a third Cooper Monogram "special" with a similar plotline, Streets of New York (39). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gangs, Inc.
Paper Bullets (aka Crime Inc.) was the first production by former slot-machine entrepreneurs Maurice and Frank Kozinski, later and better known as the King Brothers. Written by former crime reporter Martin Mooney, the story focuses on the efforts by an undercover agent Bob Elliot (John Archer) to get the goods on mobster Mickey Roma (Jack LaRue). The key to Elliot's investigation is gorgeous ex-convict Rita Adams (Joan Woodbury), who hopes to get even with Harold Dewitt (Philip Trent), the cad responsible for her incarceration. Rita's plan is to inveigle herself into the graft operation run by Harold's "respectable" politician father Clarence Dewitt (George Pembroke), then to obtain valuable evidence against Dewitt and his partner-in-crime Roma. Billed sixth as reporter Jimmy Kelly is young up-and-comer Alan Ladd, who managed to land a part in Paper Bullets because he and costar Philip Trent shared the same agent, Sue Carol (later Mrs. Ladd). When the film was reissued in 1943 as Gangs Inc, Ladd was awarded star billing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Racketeer
This late-20s gangster movie features Carole Lombard as a young gal who agrees to marry a smooth-talking gangster in exchange for the mob man's pledge to arrange a big-time concert appearance for her violinist boyfriend. The only thing that can save the day for the mis-aligned lovers is a shootout between the cops and the gangland thugs. This film is notable because it is one of the early 'talkies," and uses the newly developing audio technology with abandon. In fact, most of the action takes place off screen and the characters tell the cameras just what's happened. This one's small on sets, big on dialog. ~ Phillip Erlewine, Rovi

Gang Bullets
Gang Bullets was one of a myriad of late-1930s Monogram crime pictures, bearing such interchangable titles as I Am a Criminal, Convict's Code and Federal Bullets. Morgan Wallace plays a Capone-like racketeer named Anderson, who after being chased out of one town by the authorities immediately sets up shop in another. Unable to get any tangible evidence against Anderson, DA Wayne (Charles Trowbridge) orders his assistant Carter (Robert Kent) to dig up some dirt on the gangster boss. To do this, Carter pretends to turned crooked, joining Anderson's gang in order to accumulate evidence. Alas, Carter's girl friend Patricia (Anne Nagel) knows nothing of her boyfriend's subterfuge, and she suspects the worst. With such formidable henchmen as John Merton and Carleton Young at his beck and call, it's something of a surprise when Anderson comes a-cropper in the last reel. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Baby Face Morgan
This homey little comedy is predicated on the notion that bucolic country boy Morgan (Richard Cromwell) is the son of a notorious Roaring-Twenties racketeer. Morgan Senior's former gang, pining for their glory days, appoint "Baby Face" Morgan as their leader and resume their criminal activities. Their strategy is sublime: with the FBI busily beating the bushes for Nazi spies, who's going to pay attention to a bunch of middle-aged Prohibition gangsters? Unaware that he's being used as a figurehead, Morgan gets mixed up in a crooked insurance scheme, but by film's end he's figured out a way to clear himself and the mob, with everyone learning a lesson in the process. Reviewers in 1942 were amused by Baby Face Morgan but deplored its threadbare production values, noting that at one point the klieg lights could be seen reflecting on the bald dome of supporting player Vince Barnett! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Boss of Big Town
Quality was seldom a consideration in the low-budget films of PRC Studios; still, the company was a welcome harbor for character actors who aspired to occasional leading roles. In Boss of Big Town, veteran supporting player John Litel is top-billed as crusading city market official Michael Lynn. When a criminal gang muscles in on the local food distribution markets, Lynn vows to throw the rascals out. First, however, he pretends to join the villains as a paid government stooge, the better to find out the identity of the "Mister Big" behind the distribution racket. The exposure of the "mystery villain" will come as a shock to fans of the 1927 Cecil B. DeMille epic The King of Kings--but not to dyed-in-the-wool movie buffs. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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