There are a couple of ways to describe this classic old fashioned gangsters vs the law movie . . . of course . . . with my old fart brain I chose the way that you might predict.
The movie starts with a quote from the only man so far who has been both U.S. President and Supreme Court Chief Justice . . . William Howard Taft. Taft, from Cincinnati, Ohio, entered the national spotlight when President William McKinley, born in Niles, Ohio, just about a mile from where I am writing this, appointed him Governor-General of the Philippines in 1904. Anyway, the quote from Taft seems to say that because of our constitution, outlaws are able to thumb their noses at the law - that pesky constitution stacks the deck in favor of the criminals and all of the honest citizens suffer because of it. So if you think that our constitution should be changed, ignored, or overhauled to give government and the law more powers against criminals, you might enjoy this one.
Then there is the gambling thing. Back in 1938 our smart gangster runs illegal gambling joints - roulette, poker, slot machines, numbers running - in 1938 all of this was a terrible evil, worthy of every law enforcement agent's attention to crush and destroy. As I write this, I am hoping that the Ohio Lottery ticket in my pocket might be a winner, and the television reports that the new Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland is breaking records and bringing in tons of money for the beleaguered city and state budgets. Is this a lesson in the thought that the best way to eliminate crime is to make it legal and then tax the beejeebers out of it? Could be . . .
I, on the other hand, tend to shy away from debates about which way our ship of state should veer, and just look at the genius (in my opinion) way that the authors have crafted this crime adventure. Since it is well within the time of the Hays Office, we know that it must end with the bad guys getting caught, and the good guys winning. But there is the rub . . . maybe some of the good guys are really bad guys, and maybe some of the bad guys are really good guys . . . who can tell? Ahh, I can tell . . . and will. As an old fart, I'm always 'up' for a movie that illustrates the vast superiority of old wisdom to indefatigable young enthusiasm. Sure, the younger, smarter generation always thinks that the old timers have lost it - they just can't handle the new world that the youngsters have created. I know that I sure felt this way when I was young. But my old pappy used to wisely tell me that the older I got, the smarter he would become. I didn't understand what he was talking about when I was young, but now I can see more clearly. He was always pretty smart, I just didn't realize it until I was much older. Sometimes old-timers know a thing or two about how the world works that can surprise the heck out of the youngsters. That's my take on this movie, and I'm sticking to it :~)
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Stars: Anne Nagel, Robert Kent, Charles Trowbridge