|SERGEANT MADDEN (director: Josef von Sternberg; screenwriters: Wells Root/story by William A. Ulman Jr.; cinematographer: John Seitz; editor: Conrad A. Nervig; music: William Axt; cast: Wallace Beery (Sgt. Shaun Madden), Tom Brown (Albert 'Al' Boylan, Jr.), Alan Curtis (Dennis Madden), Laraine Day (Eileen Daly), Fay Holden (Mary Madden), Marc Lawrence ('Piggy' Ceders), David Gorcey ( 'Punchy'), Marion Martin (Charlotte), Etta McDaniel (Dove, maid), Horace McMahon (Philadelphia), Charles Trowbridge (Commissioner); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: J. Walter Ruben; Loew's (MGM); 1939)|
out better than expected."
by Dennis Schwartz
B-film moral cop story from Josef von
Scarlet Empress"/"The Last Command"/"The
Shanghai Express"), that should have been filmed by
Warners and with a different director. It was the
esteemed auteur's only film for MGM (he was removed
from I Take This Woman by the studio, which was the
other film he was contracted by MGM to do). The bad
film was his worst, a film in which he hated the
script and didn't think much of its star Wallace
Beery. I also doubt if this is the kind of common
man's film that was in von Sternberg's DNA to direct.
It's based on a story by William A.
Ulman Jr., and is adequately written by Wells
Shaun Madden (Wallace Beery) is a straight-arrow
respected Irish beat cop in NYC. The cop awaits the
day his son Dennis (Alan Curtis) and his adopted son
Albert (Tom Brown) will follow in his footsteps and
join the force. Dennis marries the sweet Irish lass
Eileen (Laraine Day, film debut), who was abandoned by
mom and pulled off the streets by Shaun and then he
reunited the child with her impoverished mom and gave
her financial aid to take the kid back with her to be
raised in the old country.
was a belligerent kid, who wishes to get fast
promotions on the force. He acts with brutality and
small-mindedness walking his dad's old beat, and
undermines the good will from dad. Because of his
lousy attitude to police work, Dennis is not popular
with either his police brothers or the public. In one
case, he unnecessarily guns down a youngster (David
Gorcey) for stealing a fur coat. This shooting pisses
off the local gangster "Piggy" Ceders (Marc
Lawrence), as the vic was his moll's
(Marion Martin) brother. Piggy thereby conspires to
frame Dennis for bribery and he's sent to Sing Sing.
Just as Shaun gets Piggy to change his story, Dennis
escapes and goes into hiding. When the cops corner
him, he kills a cop in a shoot-out. The disgraced
Shaun quits the force, but fear not because his
adopted son is there to carry on in his footsteps as
an honest cop.
can be said about the crime drama considering the star
and director were arguing throughout and the studio
never backed the acclaimed director is that the
stylish minor film though mawkish, turned out better
Holden plays Beery's good wife.
REVIEWED ON 6/28/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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