One for the must see list for fans of the early talkies. It’s based on a story by Dashiell Hammett. Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney are mixed up in the beer racket. Look for good performances from Guy Kibbee as Pop McCoy and Paul Lukas as a sleazy gangster known as The Big Fella. Watch out when someone offers to shake your hand and say, “No hard feelings.”
The Kid (Gary Cooper) works behind a shooting gallery in a carnival. He’s a crack shot. His girlfriend Nan (Sylvia Sidney) urges him to quit the dead end job and work with her stepfather Pop Cooley (Guy Kibbee) in the beer racket. He wants nothing to do with it.
The gang is run by Maskal aka/The Big Fella (Paul Lukas). He is having it on with Agnes. She’s the gun moll of Blackie, Maskal’s lieutenant. Blackie objects and Maskal orders Pop to take care of him. Pop calls Nan and tells her where to meet him even if it means a broken arm. That’s code for her to wear a sling. Pop shoots Blackie and puts the gun in Nan’s sling and tells her to dump it in the river.
A witness saw the exchange. Nan keeps her mouth shut and ends up in prison. One of the prisoners tells her she can’t wait until her boyfriend Johnny comes to get her. Nan says she’s glad her boyfriend isn’t in the rackets. Time for the prisoners’ release. Two cars pull up and before she leaves one car takes off. She opens the door to the other one. There’s Johnny. Dead.
Pop manages to get Kid to join up. When he visits Nan she’s not happy he’s finally involved. When she’s released she finds that Pop is married to a mental midget named Pansy.
Maskal thinks he’s a chick magnet and tells Nan he’s throwing a party to celebrate her release. He monopolizes her time and won’t let Kid dance with her. Kid has had enough but Maskal warns him off. Then he puts out a contract on him.
Kid takes Nan home. A bit later the doorbell rings. A man to see Kid. Outside two guys are in a car with guns pointed at the doorway. Kid sneaks up on them, takes their guns and sends them on their way.
Kid is steamed and tells Nan he’s going after Maskal and settle this once and for all. Nan is afraid for him. She puts a gun in her purse and calls Maskal and says she’s coming over. He tells Agnes to pack up and hit the road. Now things get nasty.
This is definitely one to check out.
Along with her many movie and TV roles sitcom fans know Sylvia Sidney as the first Mama Carlson on “WKRP In Cincinnati” in 1978.