(director: Josef; screenwriters: Charles and Jules
Furthman/Herman J. Mankiewicz;
cinematographer: Henry W. Gerrard; editor: Helen
Lewis; cast: George Bancroft
(Thunderbolt Jim Lang), Fay Wray (Ritzy),
Richard Arlen (Bob Morgan), Robert
Elliott (Prison Chaplain), Tully Marshall (Warden),
James Spottswood ('Snapper' O'Shea),
Fred Kohler ('Bad Al' Friedberg), Eugenie
Besserer (Mrs. Morgan),
E.H. Calvert (Dist. Atty. McKay), George Irving (Mr. Corwin),d Mike Donlin (Kentucky Sampson); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: B.P. Fineman; Famous Players/Paramount (Harvard Film Archive); 1929)
|"The first talkie by Josef Von
by Dennis Schwartz
first talkie by Josef Von Sternberg ("Anatahan"/"The
Blue Angel"/"Underworld") results in a well-plotted
early example of film noir. However the dialogue is
clunky and the action is muted.
charismatic underworld boss, Thunderbolt Jim Lang (George
Bancroft), is dazzled by his attractive mistress
Ritzy (Fay Wray) and would do anything to please her.
He's also so insanely jealous he wouldn't take too
kindly if another man flirted with her. When
Thunderbolt gets sent up the river, he fears he might
fears come true when a small-time banker named Bob
Morgan (Richard Arlen) begins a
romance with his Ritzy. Thunderbolt learns about the
affair through his sources, and while still in prison
schemes to get Morgan framed and sent to his prison on
a murder charge. To Thunderbolt's surprise his Ritzy
decides to marry Morgan while he's on death row.
Realizing, at last, that she loves Morgan and not him,
before he gets executed Thunderbolt
confesses that he framed Morgan. When Morgan is set
free after Thunderbolt's confession, he begins a new
life with his wife.
crime drama, scripted by Charles Furthman,
Jules Furthman and Herman
J. Mankiewicz, has a darkly cynical tone about a
hardened criminal's redemption.
an odd gangster pic, as it seems more intent on being
a romance than a gangster film. Nevertheless the dated
film is entertaining and now serves more as a
museum-like curio of an early crime talky.
REVIEWED ON 10/25/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ