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Bullets or Ballots

Bullets or Ballots

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Bullets or Ballots, After police captain, McLaren becomes commissioner, former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake’s sincere in his effort to join the mob. “Buggs” Fenner thinks Blake is a police agent.

STARS: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane

82 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1936 | Color


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Edward G. Robinson played GOOD & EVIL GUY!
Enjoyed viewing is great film directed by William Keighley, it has a great cast of Veteran Classic actors. Keighley produced another great film,"Street With No Name",'48. Edward G. Robinson,(Detective John Blake),"The Red House,"'47, was trying to be a good cop and keep the city from being taken over by the hoods. Joan Blondell,(Lee Morgan),"Big Daddy,"'65 has a big crush on Blake and also has a Numbers Racket going on in town that the hoods become interested in obtaining. Barton MacLane (Al Kruger),"Captain Scarface",'53 is one of the big shot gangsters and tries to get John Blake to change sides and join the bad guys. Humphrey Bogart,(Nick Bugs Fenner), "Dead End",'37, looks very young and just starting out in his acting career, does not trust John Blake and is a trigger happy gangster who will stop at nothing to become the Number 1 HOOD! If you love old gangster films with great actors, this is the film for YOU!

One of the best in the Warner gangster cycle!
The plot of this one has such a familiar ring (in fact it is probably the most commonly used ploy of the gangster film), we find ourselves hoping against hope that Robinson is really the disgruntled cop he seems. The fact that his word has been his bond for thirty years on the force, doesn't seem to worry him unduly except as it affects Kruger, but this moral dilemma is neatly removed from the script before it can be put to the test. Otherwise the film is a very stylish exercise in the genre, though fans may be a bit disappointed by the quick demise of the principal thugs and the film's downbeat ending.
Keighley's use of camera-work is much more fluid here than usual with dizzying crane shots and a memorably fast tracking shot as Bogart's car speeds alongside an enormous line of freight wagons being raided by police. The film is also another example of Warner Brothers craftsmanship par excellence, with splendid montage routines of meticulously mocked-up newspaper headlines (quick readers will notice that the story continues below the headlines — there is nothing cheap about production values in a Warner Brothers film), lavish sets peopled with hundreds of extras, driving, fast-paced direction, atmospheric photography (love the way Bogart's face is often lit with vertical bars and shadows to make him see even more menacing), sharp film editing and some of the best and most proficient players in the business.
Bogart in his first film after Petrified Forest, gives a memorable yet characteristic impression of a shrewd, sly, cynical, trusting no-one, ambitious yet not over-bright thug; while Barton MacLane holds up his end, helped by Miller's literate dialogue, to give a portrayal of some depth as the crime boss. Robinson is his usual bluff, free-wheeling self (though it's a bit hard to believe in his physical prowess, he is such a small man compared to Joseph King, William Pawley and Norman Willis!) Surprisingly, Despite her prominence in the cast list, Miss Blondell does not play a major part in the proceedings (she is none too flatteringly photographed either). Frank McHugh also, fortunately, has a minor role (his comedy routines are slow and unrealistically drawn out). The other roles are most competently played. Henry Kolker makes an impression as the glad-handing Hollister and George E. Stone is effective in a small role as one of Bogart's henchmen.

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