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(Review originally written at 18 December 2006)

This movie is a well made and entertaining early gangster movie about the rise and fall of an ambitious criminal played by Edward G. Robinson.

OK so this movie may not be "The Godfather" or "Scarface" but its a good gangster movie on its own nevertheless. The movie has a solid story even though the storytelling itself is lacking at times. The movie often takes jumps in the time-line and some moments feel rather hasted. But this is sort of fitting for '30's cinema standards.

It's a movie that is mostly carried by its characters and actors rather than its events. The movie has many characters in it, which does make the movie seem well constructed and written. Most of the actors go extremely over-the-top in their roles, it's perhaps the only reason why the movie does feel quite dated. The only one who seems to play his character in the right way was Edward G. Robinson. He really was superb. He also went over-the-top but in a good and positive fitting way for its character and story. He carried the movie mostly on his own and makes the movie worth seeing for his performance alone. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. also plays a good role but his role is limited down a bit too much to really leave a lasting impression.

The movie features most of the typical gangster clich├ęs. The movie is filled with a whole bunch of tough backstabbing wise-guys, who each want to profit from another and go up the criminal ladder. The movie follows one of those characters. It provides a good and entertaining look into the organized crime of the 20's/30's, during the infamous prohibition. The movie has some good and typical violent gangster moments, complete with shootouts and tough talking and looking gangsters.

It all in all makes the movie a really good early gangster movie that obviously inspired many other later genre movies. For that reason alone it's already a bit of a must-see.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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