THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE
From the 1930s to the 1950s, it was very common to see the expose film. A main character would slip behind the scenes of some seedy underworld to show off the worst of society. Edward G. Robinson is our hero, as he plays against a villainous Humphrey Bogart. Robinson wants Bogey to understand the error of his ways, but he can’t shake his need to delve into crime. Typical melodrama matched by some excellent shoot-outs for that time.
Bogey and George Raft know that they ain’t ever going to go straight. So, when they get parolled, they want to find the quickest way to head back to prison. They were rebels without causes before James Dean was a twinkle in some teenage tramp’s eye. William Holden plays Raft’s kid brother in the flick, but he doesn’t get a ton of face time. Honestly, it was kind of weird seeing Holden as that young of a man. It makes Bogey and Raft seem that much older in retrospect.
The prize fight circuit goes hand-in-hand with Golden Age crime films. Bogey and Robinson are criminal fight promoters who are working against each other to find the next big thing. When Bette Davis shows up, this little moll flips everyone on their ear. There’s been better, but it works for a picture of its age.
Edward G. Robinson has just gotten out of Sing-Sing. Opening up a luggage shop affords Robinson a new take on life. But, secretly he’s digging a tunnel between the shop and the bank next door. It’s kind of like the evil plan of the bad guy in Short Circuit 2. I’d be willing to pay to see a fan edit of this film that adds Johnny 5 into the mix. The wise-crackin’ robot and Edward G. Robinson were meant to have a vehicle together.
THE LITTLE GIANT
Edward G. Robinson gets a comedic role as a former bootlegger that tries to go straight and move to Santa Barbara. He initially finds difficulty fitting in among High Society until they realize that they’re scumbags just like Robinson. Fun times are had, as they all take turns laughing at the poor people during the Depression.
Warner Brothers packs this collection with the standard treatment they give to Classic Special Editions. Superior A/V Quality is matched with newsreels, one-reel shorts and cartoons selected from the original theatrical run. The selling point of the package is the bonus documentary Public Enemies: The Golden Age of Gangster Film. I’d recommend viewing the documentary after partaking in these five films. It’s a perfect starting point for any Gangster Film fan or novice viewer.
I’m toying with turning this kind of a Monday entry into a regular feature for The Special Edition. As always, comments and suggestions are appreciated.