In the 1930s Runyon paired up with Howard Lindsay to write a comedy play about a gangster who tries to become legitimate after prohibition is finished. The play opened in September 11, 1935 – with unknown actor José Ferrer playing a policeman.. Warner Brothers payed $ 50,000 for the rights of this play - which with a bit of rewriting by Earl Baldwin and Joseph Schrank as well as non-credited Mary C. McCall jr., the appearance of one of the most popular gangster performers at that time and also Lloyd Bacon as director became one of Warner’s biggest hits in 1938:
A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER
1933. The 13 years of prohibition are over and speakeasies are history. Remy Marco (Edward G. Robinson) – a big shot mobster making a lot of money with selling his beer (he just ruled the city – so there wasn’t any alternative for drinkers and barkeepers) – decides to go legitimate. From now on his mobsters are supposed to be salesman, talking refined and having a daily (..) shave – not to speak of clean shirts.. But due to the fact that his beer is really awful (Remy doesn’t know about that because he drinks no beer) he soon gets into financial troubles and money lenders Post (John Litel) and Ritter (Eric Stanley) are trying to overtake his brewery.
~ Bobby Jordan and Edward G. Robinson - and Margaret Hamilton's back!!
WOW! I AM EXCITED!! ~
- George E. Stone, one of my favourite supporting players as Kirk - remember Toothpick Charlie from SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), Otero from LITTLE CAESAR (1931) or Andy Lee from 42ND STREET (1933)? He was a close friend of Damon Runyon’s .
- Harry Wilson as Butch, one of Remy’s gangsters, who is told to have a manicure.
- Carole Landis in a bit role leaning towards the piano in the party scene.
- Betty Compson as Loretta in the party scene.
- The statuette of the Great Dane in Remy's anteroom - soo 1930's.. Just gorgeous..
- Before he started acting Willard Parker was a professional tennis player under his actual name Worster von Eps. His most popular role was Ranger Jace Pearson in TV series TALES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS (1955-1958). He had a height of 6'5'' (1,96 m) - just as a comparison: Edward G. Robinson had a height of 5'5'' (1,65 m) and Ruth Donnelly a height of 5'6'' (1,68 m)..
- Ronald Regan was tested for the role that later went to Willard Parker.
- The German title VIER LEICHEN AUF ABWEGEN could be translated into „Four corpses going astray” – it wasn’t shown in Germany untill 1979 – then it was premiered in TV.
A REAL case of slight murder:
Hymie Miller (please don't mix him up with the boxer by the same name..) – one of the bit players who performed as one member of Marco’s gang was reportedly shot at the age of 30 in 1938 – three months before the film was released.
~ Hymie Miller listening to Edward G. Robinson.~
After closing the delicatessen he co-owned and arriving home he went to bed - there he was shot in his sleep. – Though his nose was shot off and many other parts of him were badly hurt (let’s skip those details..) he was still conscious and able to tell the police that he didn’t know the assailant.
He died in the hospital. Later it came out that he and his partner (with whom he owned the deli) were actual small-time gangsters, who like appearantly many others worked in bit parts in films.
The deli was a popular meeting place for shady fellas.. The night clerk of the house Miller lived in was able to identify the murderer from photos as Johnny Fisher – another not so kosher extra with whom Miller reportedly had a quarrel about a girl.. – Fisher was arrested just while working on the tournament scene in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) – and apparently the police just marched through the merry men to arrest him… must have been a lovely mix of outfits..
You should watch this film if you…
- … love gangster flicks – esp. LITTLE CAESAR (1931).
- … like 1930 party scenes.
- … adore Ruth Donnelly, Alan Jenkins, Jane Bryan and Edward G. Robinson - like yours Irene does..
- ... want to learn how to open a beer bottle and in the same second misuse a piano..
- Like Rico in LITTLE CAESAR (1931) Remy Marco is always speaking of himfelf in third person:
Let’s face the music:
Take a deep breath – there is a lot of music in this:
- The film starts with “HOW DRY I AM” – well, what better song to end prohibition??
- When Remy Marco is going to get “his orphan” the orphans sing for him: “HOW DO YOU DO, MR. MARCO?”
The lyrics go like:
“How do you do, Mr. Marco, how do you do?
All the happy little orphans are welcome you.
We are glad that you are here
‘cause you always bring us cheer.
How do you do, Mr. Marco, how do you do?”
~ awww... I love the "all the happy little orphans" part... ~
- You can hear “KINDERSZENEN” by Robert Schumann when Remy and Nora are looking at the apparently sleeping Douglas.
- At the very lively party you can hear – some of them not directly because the storyline leaves the party scene then:
“IT HAD TO BE YOU”
“SHINE ON, HARVEST MOON”
“THE MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN”
“MY MELANCHOLY BABY”
“DANCING WITH TEARS IN MY EYES”
“BOB WHITE (WHATCHA GONNA SWING TONIGHT)”
“I’M LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER”
“YOU CAN’T STOP ME FROM DREAMING”
~ Remy worried about Douglas health, Douglas worried about his beer, Nora worried about the piano.
(not in the picture)
orried that no one is called Douglas Fairbanks Rosenbloom anymore. ~
Scene to watch:
Gip's (Harold Huber) explanation why he looks greenish after testing Remy's beer:
“Yeah, they’re always passing laws interfering with people.”
I love the humor of this film - the dialogues are great - a lot of gangster talk - I LOVE that!!
And I also love how Bobby Jordan greets Jane Bryan when they are introduced:
This film is made with a marvellous cast - including some of my favourite 1930s actors like Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Donnelly, Alan Jenkins, George E. Stone and of course my beloved Margaret Hamilton.
Oh – and Jane Bryan just looks stunning – when she comes down the stairs with that shiny, slinky dress to greet her fiancé – well.. I would call that positively breathtaking..
What I also love about this film is the pairing of Edward G. Robinson and Ruth Donnelly.
Not only because they work so well together – I also like the fact that Mrs. Marco is no classic gangster moll – you know them from several other films:
the Gloria Grahame type - gorgeous looking a bit sneaky etc. ..
No, Nora Marco is Remy’s partner. In the moment she learns that he had lost his money she immediately suggests to sell her jewels – just to be told that she is wearing phonies for months now – just because Remy was ashamed to tell her about his failure.
Thank you all for listening,
Thank you all for listening,
“Now, stay kosher, keep your nose clean..”