Friday, November 25, 2005


Just a few days ago, I dissed Bruce Cabot as the leading man in SINNER TAKE ALL. Now I have to note how much I liked him as the lead in this B-crime movie with a unique propaganda twist: it's basically an anti-parole movie. The film opens at a parole hearing for convict Cabot. His sad-looking wife shows up with a baby in tow and helps convince the board to free him, but we find out that the woman is an actress and the baby is rented. Cabot is whisked off to his mistress (Grace Bradley) and continues his life of crime by robbing a dairy company and killing a guard in the process. Then he spends a few weeks visiting his small-town family who think he's an important traveling businessman (Cabot has his henchman Frank Jenks send them postcards from foreign countries to strengthen the illusion). While visiting, he pulls off a jewelry store robbery to get a bracelet for Bradley, and cop James Gleason, who has been after Cabot all along, figures out what's what. He finds Bradley and blackmails her (with incriminating phone calls to another lover) into helping catch him. Cabot winds up behind bars again for possessing a gun while on parole, but pulls off a clever escape, just long enough to gun down Bradley in cold blood, then gets back to jail where eventually he comes up for parole again. The twist this time is that his father, Lewis Stone, is now a member of the parole board. When his son comes before him (under an assumed name), he is shocked. Cabot gets Stone to agree to let him off in exchange for never contacting the family again, but the son returns to town for one last heist, on the eve of his sister's wedding. The finale is appropriately vicious and satisfying. Cabot is convincing both as a brutal thug and as a nice all-American boy. Stone and Gleason are fine as usual. Betty Grable is Cabot's sister, Louise Latimer is his almost homely small-town girlfriend, John Arledge is Grable's fiance, and Nella Walker is Stone's wife. This little B-gem has been ignored by Maltin and Halliwell, but it's worth catching the next time it crops up on Turner Classic. [TCM]

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