Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Larceny, Inc.


Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Directed by
Lloyd Bacon

Writing credits
Laura Perelman (play) and
S.J. Perelman (play) ...

Genre: Comedy / Crime / Drama (more)

Plot Outline: Three ex-cons buy a luggage shop to tunnel into the bank vault next door. But despite all they can do, the shop prospers...

Cast overview, first billed only:

Edward G. Robinson .... J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell

Jane Wyman .... Denny Costello

Broderick Crawford .... Jug Martin

Jack Carson .... Jeff Randolph

Jackie C. Gleason...Hobart (lunch counter man)

Runtime: 95 min

Ed here: I'm always grateful for anything that can distract me from my demons (Poe had nothing on me believe me) and Larceny, Inc. sure took me away for an hour and a half.

Seeing Edward G. Robinson play broad comedy was fun, Jane Wyman was really a cutie, Broderick Crawford (seriously) did several bits of physical comedy that came straight from the Shemp Mo and Curly handbook, and Jack Carson in four set pieces damned near walked off with the whole movie. (I agree with David Thomson that watching Carson work was one of the great true pleasures of American film.) Of course having dialogue written by S.J. Perelman doesn't hurt.

And even in the early Forties playing a hapless soda jerk you can see Jackie Gleason (Jackie C. in the billing) developing both The Poor Soul and Joe The Bartender. Only seven years later he'd be trying them out on the Dumont TV network.

For all that this was an A movie it had some of the mutinous spirit of the better Bs. This could easily have turned into one of those cautionary crime tales Hollywood loved back then (crime doesn't pay with frog-like J. Edgar Hoover sitting sternly behind his desk) but there's never an apology made for the fact that just about everybody you like in the film is a crook and most of those you dislike are upstanding citizens.

This is in rotation on Turner Classic. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, you'll want a keeper copy. Next time I'll record it.

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