ALL CAME TRUE (director: Lewis
Seiler; screenwriter: based on the novel "Better Than
Life" by Louis Bromfield/Michael Fessier/Lawrence Kimble;
Haller; editor: Thomas Richards; music: Max
Steiner; cast: Ann
Sheridan (Sarah Jane Ryan aka Sal), Jeffrey Lynn (Tommy
Taylor), Humphrey Bogart (Grasselli aka Chips Maguire),
Zasu Pitts (Miss Flint), Una O'Connor (Maggie Ryan),
Jessie Busley (Mrs. Nora Taylor), John Litel (Mr. 'Doc'
Roberts), Grant Mitchell (Mr. Rene Salmon), Felix
Bressart (The Great Boldini), Brandon Tynan (Mr. Van Diver), Charles Judels (Henri Pepi de
Bordeaux); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR;
producer: Mark Hellinger; Warner Bros.; 1940)
"It has a winsome light touch."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Seiler ("The Smiling Ghost"/"Guadalcanal Diary"/"Pittsburgh")
directs this well-made
sentimental fairy tale story about a hardened gangster
fugitive going soft to help some innocents in a jam.
It has a winsome light touch as a comedy/crime drama.
It's adapted from Louis Bromfield's novel "Better
Than Life" by writers Michael Fessier and Lawrence Kimble. It was
released before Humphrey Bogart became a superstar in High
Sierra (1941) and The Maltese Falcon (1941), therefore
his scene-stealing gangster role only earns him third
billing to popular star of the day Ann Sheridan and
the handsome leading man Jeffrey Lynn. Sheridan
sings a number of songs that include "Angel in
Disguise" and, in a sexy black evening dress, she also
sings "the Gaucho Serenade."
Big-time racketeer Chips
on the lam from the cops after his nightclub is raided
for illegal gambling and he kills the squealer who
tipped off the cops. Chips, under the alias Grasselli, hides out in the quaint
museum-like NYC boardinghouse just inherited by long-term employees of the
boardinghouse Norah Taylor (Jessie Busley) and Maggie
Ryan (Una O'Connor), where the guests are daffy former
vaudeville performers. Mrs. Taylor's son Tommy (Jeffrey Lynn) is the piano player in Chips's
Cairo Club who was promised to be helped by the
connected gangster to get his music published but was
never helped and is unhappy with the boss. After the
raid, Chips blackmails Tommy to help him since the
murder weapon was registered under Tommy's name.
Returning home after away
for five years, Tommy reunites with struggling
nightclub singer Sarah Jane Ryan (Ann Sheridan), a feisty old flame who
uses the stage name Sal and is the daughter of Maggie Ryan. Sarah just
moved back to the boardinghouse after a gig in
Atlantic City went sour. She's upset that Tommy never
wrote her in five years and wants to rekindle their
romance, but he's hostile. She was employed at one
time as a showgal by Chips and realizes the
good-for-nothing thug has something over Tommy, as she
tries her best to give Tommy her love and support.
Meanwhile Norah and Maggie do their best to be
motherly to the hard-boiled Grasselli, who tries his
best to deflect their good intentions.
When Norah and Maggie are
about to lose the boardinghouse to the bank for not
paying taxes, Chips pays the taxes and transforms
their boardinghouse into the Roaring 90s nightclub.
The gangster gets one of the eccentric guests, a
failed magician named The Great Boldini (Felix Bressart), to act with his dog in the
show along with headliners Tommy and Sal. The gangster
figures this way the maternal boardinghouse ladies
won't lose their property and he won't be bored
On opening night, the
repressed boarder who imagines men follow her home,
Miss Flint (Zasu
becomes tipsy and afraid for her life and
inadvertently tips off the police where Chips is
hiding, as she just read a detective magazine and
realizes from a photo that the new boardinghouse guest
is Chips Maguire.
Sentimentality gets played
like a violin in an orchestra for the predictable
happy ending, as Chips takes the high road, realizing
Sal and Tommy are meant for each other, and decides to
take the rap without implicating Tommy.
REVIEWED ON 5/1/2012 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ