Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bullets or Ballots

Directed by William Keighley.
1936. Not Rated, 82 minutes.
Edward G. Robinson
Humphrey Bogart
Joan Blandell
Barton MacLane

Once Cpt. McLaren (Joe King) takes over the police department, he fires Johnny Blake (Robinson), one of the most successful and feared officers on the force. The local mob boss, Al Kruger (MacLane) seizes the opportunity and recruits Blake to join his gang. Based on the story of real-life cop Johnny Broderick. Most famous for his roles as a gangster, Robinson switches sides of the law in one of Hollywood's earliest tales of an undercover cop who may have gotten in too deep (movie buffs will see what I did there). As is usually the case with Robinson, it's a virtuoso performance. In this case, he exudes the arrogance necessary to move up the criminal ladder. To help matters out, the cast also includes a particularly angry Bogart for Robinson to go back and forth with. The story does a nice job of putting our hero in compromising positions for him to figure out. Best of all, the ending is a courageous one, particularly for the era. It leaves us a little unsure how we're supposed to feel. The entire film is a blueprint for the many movies of its kind to follow.

MY SCORE: 10/10

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