|THE BIG SHAKEDOWN (director: John Francis Dillon; screenwriters: Rian James/Niven Busch/story 'Cut Rate' by Sam Engel & Niven Busch; cinematographer: Sid Hickox; editor: Thomas Richards; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: Charles Farrell (Jimmy Morrell), Bette Davis (Norma Nelson), Ricardo Cortez (Dutch Barnes), Glenda Farrell (Lily Duran), Allen Jenkins (Lefty), Dewey Robinson (Slim), Henry O'Neill (Sheffner), Renee Whitney (Mae LaRue); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel Bischoff ; Warner Bros.; 1934)|
|"A so-so crime drama about nasty
racketeers in the pharmacy industry."
by Dennis Schwartz
so-so crime drama about nasty racketeers in the
pharmacy industry, making life miserable for the
greedy innocent couple lured into the rackets and
unable to quit after promised them much. Director John
Francis Dillon ("Man About Town"/"Call Her
Savage"/"Sally"), in his last film, as he died shortly
after from a heart attack, keeps the routine
programmer moving along. It's based on the story
'Cut Rate' by Sam Engel & Niven Busch.
It's set in NYC.
Nelson (Bette Davis) and Jimmy Morrell (Charles
Farrell) are engaged and run a neighborhood drugstore.
When former bootlegger gangster Dutch Barnes
(Ricardo Cortez) drops into their drugstore as a
customer, he's pleased Jimmy can duplicate making from
scratch product brands and offers him a job manufacturing
counterfeit toothpaste. Jim takes the offer despite
Norma's objections. He soon gets enough money to
marry, as he stocks the store with fake items that he
sells for less money. Jimmy rationalizes his crime by
telling himself he's helping his poor customers.
former girl friend, Lily Duran (Glenda Farrell),
jealous that he fools around with another broad, Mae
(Renee Whitney), squeals on his racket to the law and
he gets threatened with prosecution. The chemist who
created the toothpaste formula, Sheffner (Henry
O'Neill), warns Jimmy to stop making it as
a knock-off brand and Jimmy breaks his relationship
with Dutch. But Dutch bumps off Lily and ties Jimmy to
the murder, and blackmails him to continue making the
How things get resolved in an acid bath seems contrived to fit the film's message "that crime doesn't pay."
The film's best scene was a hair-pulling catfight between Gloria and Renee.
REVIEWED ON 9/5/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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