(out of 5)
Early Hollywood project by the recently-arrived Fritz Lang shows him off at his corniest. George Raft and Sylvia Sidney play employees at a department store whose big-hearted owner (Harry Carey) has a strange hiring practice: he gives ex-cons the opportunity to go straight by giving them an honest living in his store. Raft has left his wicked ways behind him, and after completing parole decides to leave for California and seek out even better opportunities for a brighter future. He and Sidney finally admit their love for each other at the moment of departure, however, so he opts instead to stay and marry the lovely lady, but trouble is not far behind their fresh start. She has a secret that could destroy them completely, while he becomes despondent over the distance her secret puts between them, which then makes him vulnerable to the influence of nefarious old friends and older habits. Lang had an ability to create rich images with depth and shadowy precision unlike anyone of his time (particularly enjoyable in the department store scenes), but the cardboard characters and cheesy moralizing really keeps it at the bottom of the list among the classics he made. That said, the scene where Sidney does a demonstration on why crime doesn’t pay is totally worth the price of admission.
Directed by Fritz Lang
Cinematography by Charles Lang
Produced by Fritz Lang
Music by Kurt Weill
Film Editing by Paul Weatherwax
Cast Tags: Adrian Morris,Arthur Hoyt, Barton MacLane, Bernadene Hayes, Blanca Vischer,Carol Paige, Cecil Cunningham, Egon Brecher, Ellen Drew, Fern Emmett, George E. Stone, George Raft, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Gwen Kenyon,Hal K. Dawson, Harlan Briggs,Harriette Haddon, Harry Carey, Herta Lynd, Jack Mulhall, Jack Pennick,Jane Dewey, Jimmie Dundee, Joe Gray, Joyce Compton, Joyce Mathews,Julia Faye, Kit Guard, Louise Seidel,Margaret Randall, Matt McHugh, Max Barwyn, Oscar ‘Dutch’ Hendrian, Paula DeCardo, Phil Warren,Richard Denning, Robert Cummings, Roger Gray,Roscoe Karns, Ruth Rogers, Sam Ash, Sheila Darcy, Sylvia Sidney, Vera Gordon, Warren Hymer, Willard Robertson, William B. Davidson