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Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 [6 Discs] [DVD]

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$49.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Warner Night at the Movies extras
  • Expert commentaries
  • New featurettes on each movie
  • Vintage shorts
  • Classic cartoons
  • More!
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

A Slight Case of Murder
Slight Case of Murder is a breakneck-paced comedy starring Edward G. Robinson as a tough but good-hearted bootlegger. When Prohibition is repealed, Robinson faces a financial crisis: His beer tastes so awful that no one wants to drink it legally. As an additional headache, Robinson is under scrutiny from the Law, which is waiting to slip the cuffs on him for the slightest infraction. He arrives at his rented Saratoga mansion with his wife (Ruth Donnelly), daughter (Jane Bryan) and adopted son (Bobby Jordan), only to discover that a killer has left four corpses in his bedroom. Robinson and his stooges are forced to hide the bodies before his future son-in-law (Willard Parker), who happens to be a cop, tumbles to the dilemma. Based on a stage play by Howard Lindsay and Damon Runyon, A Slight Case of Murder a just as entertaining in the 1990s as it was fifty years ago (please ignore a tepid 1953 musical remake titled Stop, You're Killing Me). Surprisingly, this film was not a favorite of star Edward G. Robinson, who felt that director Lloyd Bacon rushed through the material without taking full advantage of its comic potential. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

G-Men
In G Men, Warner Bros. "bad boy" James Cagney plays James "Brick" Davis, a young lawyer whose education has been financed by soft-hearted racketeer McKay (William Harrigan). When Cagney's best pal, detective Eddie Buchanan (Regis Toomey), is killed in a gangland shooting, James decides to become a G-Man. Though scrupulously honest, Davis is looked upon with suspicion by his fellow agents because of his association with the crooked McKay. He proves he's a "good guy" when his former girlfriend, Jean Ann Dvorak, now the wife of mobster Brad Collins (Barton MacLane), tips him off to a "Little Bohemia"-style gangster hideaway. Jean later sacrifices her own life to help James rescue his new girl, nurse Kay McCord (Margaret Lindsay), from the vengeful Collins. Based on Gregory Miller's book Public Enemy No. 1, G-Men was reissued in 1949, with an added prologue featuring David Brian as an FBI trainer who advises his students not to laugh at the old-fashioned costumes and slang in the 1935 film; seen today, it is Brian's superfluous opening comments that seem hopelessly dated, while the film itself is as exciting and entertaining as ever. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bullets or Ballots
Two-fisted New York police detective Edward G. Robinson is so volatile that he manages to get himself thrown off the force in disgrace. The local gangsters are delighted, in that Robinson had been breathing down their necks. When Robinson goes to crime boss Barton MacLaine insisting that he's through with law enforcement and wants to switch to the other side, MacLaine's chief henchmen Humphrey Bogart doesn't buy the story, but has to go along since he doesn't want to incur the wrath of MacLaine. Robinson offers to show his former enemies how to circumvent the law, making him an invaluable participant in gang activities. Actually, Robinson hasn't gone crooked at all; he's operating undercover, with the full knowledge of the city police inspector, in hopes of locating the "big boys" who've been financing the mob. His diligence costs him his life, but Robinson, with the help of bad-girl-gone-good Joan Blondell, busts the rackets wide open. Former crime reporter Martin Mooney was responsible for the story upon which Bullets or Ballots was based. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

City for Conquest
There are three key characters in Anatole Litvak's filmization of Aben Kandel's novel City for Conquest, as opposed to the six or more in the book -- but the real star, to a large extent, is New York City and its entire population. For purposes of the movie, however, the dramatic arc is linked to James Cagney, as honest, unpretentious truck driver Danny Kenny, whose life is involved with two other people -- his kid brother, Ed (Arthur Kennedy), a gifted musician trying to survive in the rough-and-tumble world of New York's Lower East Side, and Peggy Nash (Ann Sheridan), the neighborhood girl from the Lower East Side whom he's loved, one way or another, since he was a kid. Danny is happy doing what he does, driving a truck, but when Ed's scholarship is cut in half, he reluctantly takes an offer of a boxing match to raise the cash he needs, going into the ring under the fighting name "Young Samson." At about the same time, Peggy -- who loves to dance -- has her head turned by Murray Burns (Anthony Quinn), an ambitious but sleazy aspiring professional dancer. Eventually Peggy goes into partnership with Murray and is ultimately driven by her own ambition to leave Danny after she accepts his marriage proposal. By now, he's getting up in the boxing world, and in his bitterness over losing Peggy he accepts a bout for the world's welterweight championship. He's not overmatched as a boxer, but the money involved in this fight is just too big for it to be honest, and Danny is left all but blinded when his opponent's handlers slip resin dust onto his gloves. Danny is left seemingly a shell of a man, though he's content with his lot in life as far as it goes. He doesn't want any special attention or favors from anyone; the only thing he would like, though he's too proud to admit it, would be for Peggy to come back. But by now her dancing career with Murray has fallen apart, and she's too tortured by guilt, over the sequence of events she helped start, to come near Danny. It falls to Ed, who has never given up composing, to express the inexpressibles that each of these characters feels through his music. His first major classical work is a symphony ostensibly about New York City, which he conducts in its premiere at Carnegie Hall; but it's also about Danny and his life, and his dreams. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

San Quentin
One of a slew of prison reform picture that flourished during the Great Depression, this melodrama was banned in Finland. Pat O'Brien stars as Steve Jameson, a former Army officer who is hired at the infamous California prison of the title and quickly brings military order to the facility, separating the general population from the most violent offenders. In the meantime, Steve is falling for a singer, May (Ann Sheridan), but he keeps his profession a secret when she reveals that her brother Joe (Humphrey Bogart) is serving time in San Quentin. May eventually learns of Steve's deception and their romance hits the skids. When a jealous rival guard, Lt. Druggin (Barton MacLane), arranges for Joe to discover the romance between Steve and his sister, Joe begins plotting escape and revenge. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Each Dawn I Die
Otis Ferguson has said of Each Dawn I Die that "the story is of the kind you would have to see to disbelieve." And to be sure, the film is nothing more than a sampler of '30s prison-film conventions. But with the brilliant acting by James Cagney and the fast-paced and hard-edged direction of William Keighley, the film clatters past like an express train. Cagney plays Frank Ross, an innocent newspaperman who is railroaded into prison by a corrupt district attorney. In prison, he meets hardened-con Stacey (George Raft). Frank, at first, doesn't want to associate with Stacey and the other prisoners, but trapped in the hellhole prison, he more and more turns into a bitter con. Finally granted a hearing from the parole board, Frank pleads his innocence, but the parole board is headed by Grayce (Victor Jury), the man responsible for his imprisonment, and his parole is denied, and Frank becomes more hardened and embittered. By this point, Stacey has befriended him and agrees to help Frank prove his innocence. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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