1927’s “The Jazz Singer” was mostly music and this is the one considered the first all talkie. It’s about bootleggers, coppers, dancers and a couple of small town rubes in the big city. It’s not very good but it’s worth seeing due to its place in history.
Jackson and Dickson are laying low in a small town. They get word that bootlegging charges against them in New York have been dropped. They’ll need money to get set back up. The town’s hotel isn’t doing well and the local barber doesn’t have much to do. A while back Eddie Morgans’ girlfriend Kitty went to New York. Here’s his chance to go. Barber Gene (Eugene Pallette) wants in on the deal and they invest with Jackson and Dickson. They think it’s going to be a barber shop.
Six months in New York and they’ve had it. The barber shop is a front war a speakeasy and there’s a bootlegger war on. A cop was killed. Jackson and Dickson say they can have the business. They’re leaving a town that’s too hot for them. Kitty Lewis (Helene Costello) is a dancer in Hawk Miller’s nightclub. Hawk (Wheeler Oakman) wants her to give up Eddie and hang out with him. His long time girlfriend Molly warns him to leave Kitty alone.
Hawk has an idea. When the cop was killed twelve cases of Old Century were stolen. Turns out Hawk killed the cop and now he needs to get rid of the booze and a couple coppers are on their way to search the joint. He cons Eddie into taking the cases away to his place. When the cops get there and don’t find anything he tells them to meet him at Eddie’s place at ten o’clock. He figures he’ll frame him and that way he’ll be gone and it’s an open road to Kitty.
It’s a real melodramatic and corny ending but the talkies had to start somewhere. Wheeler Oakman and Eugene Pallette went on to appear in dozens of movies. Pallette’s froggy voice is easily recognizable.
Helene Costello’s career ranged from 1909 to 1942. She was a too typical tragic story of early Hollywood and had many problems with booze and drugs.