The Brilliance of the 1930s Warner Bros. Gangster Movie

Almost nobody made better gangster films than Warner Bros. in the 1930s. The studio ground out these movies on notoriously economical budgets. The films were gritty and smart, featuring characters who talked in a machine-gun staccato and dispensed canny observations: “Whenever mugs get into a jam, the first thing they do is start knocking each… Continue reading The Brilliance of the 1930s Warner Bros. Gangster Movie

Comedy · Gangster

Claire Trevor’s 3-Pronged Attack in the War on Drugs

Before Claire Trevor is sent to infiltrate a Mexican drug ring in the 1950 crime comedy, Borderline, she is asked a question many women recognize: “Do you think you can handle this?” Aww, isn’t that cute? Trevor’s character, a smart and experienced member of the Los Angeles Police Department, is asked if she can handle this. To her credit, she refrains from… Continue reading Claire Trevor’s 3-Pronged Attack in the War on Drugs

Drama · Gangster

Saying Goodbye to the 1930s Gangster

*Spoiler Alert* Who doesn’t love that great dialogue from 1930s gangster flicks? These films treated us to such gems as: “Listen, you crummy, flat-footed copper. I’ll show you whether I’ve lost my nerve…!” – and – “Why, that dirty, no-good, yellow-bellied stool.” From these movies we learn what a “mug” is, how to “take a powder”, and when a… Continue reading Saying Goodbye to the 1930s Gangster

Comedy · Gangster

The Amazing Edward G. Robinson: Is He or Isn’t He?

Sometimes movies pose tantalizing questions, such as: Is the main character off his rocker? Hamlet is a famous example of a character with ambiguous mental health; so is another lesser-known figure, Dr.  Clitterhouse. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) is a black comedy about a successful medical doctor (Edward G. Robinson) who becomes fascinated by what he calls “the… Continue reading The Amazing Edward G. Robinson: Is He or Isn’t He?


Memo to MGM: Tread Loudly in Gangster-land

Crime was big business in the 1930s. Okay, crime is always big business but during the early 1930s, movie audiences couldn’t get enough of sneering criminals. Perhaps it was an emotional purging – it was the Depression after all. Warner Bros. were the Kings of the Gangster Pictures, and they certainly knew how it was done. A good gangster… Continue reading Memo to MGM: Tread Loudly in Gangster-land

Comedy · Gangster

The Dual Edward Fan Club

Let us be clear about one thing: We adore Edward G. Robinson‘s acting and we cannot abide anything negative said about his talent. One reason for our adoration is his performance in the 1935 comedy, The Whole Town’s Talking, where Edward plays two characters: (1) a ruthless gangster who has just escaped from prison; and… Continue reading The Dual Edward Fan Club


Humphrey Bogart’s Oscar Snub

This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. It runs Feb. 1 – Mar. 3, in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar. If you came to our house to watch The Petrified Forest, these would be the… Continue reading Humphrey Bogart’s Oscar Snub

Film Noir · Gangster

White Heat (1949)

“I made it, Ma! Top of the world!” This is the tragedy of the legendary movie line: it looms larger than its context. When you hear the line delivered in the original movie, you can’t help but snicker because you’ve seen it parodied a million times. And therein, they say, lies the tragedy. The “Top… Continue reading White Heat (1949)

Comedy · Gangster

The Little Giant (1933)

We love how Edward G. Robinson says the word “coppers”. He spits it out, with contempt, like a swear word. Now, you should know that we simply adore Edward G. Robinson and we won’t hear a negative word against him. We think he’s the greatest thing since gourmet chocolate sauce. In the The Little Giant, Robinson… Continue reading The Little Giant (1933)