Tuesday, June 02, 2009


A primitive early talkie, shot like an especially static stage play, with a predictable family melodrama plotline. It features three acting brothers, Matt, Tom, and Owen Moore, fairly well known in silent pictures, in their only film together. I'm not sure that's reason enough for the average film buff to search this one out, but if you accept its limitations, it's just on the right side of watchable. The three boys are Irish-American brothers: Matt is a doctor whose career is on the rise, Tom is a traffic cop, and Owen, as far as his family knows, is a successful businessman who is usually too busy to visit, but we find out that he's actually a notorious bootlegger who operates under an assumed name (Barney). Tom is sweet on nice Irish girl Katherine Perry, who happens to meet "Barney" at a party, unaware at the time of his double identity. However, in the aftermath of the party, Matt arrives to care for a thug who was injured in a mini-brawl and he recognizes his brother. He agrees to keep quiet, but eventually Tom is promoted to detective and is assigned to track down "Barney." Things start to unravel at the family Thanksgiving dinner when Perry recognizes Owen as "Barney" and Owen puts out a hit on the cop who's after him, not knowing it's his own brother. The climax is fairly strong but loses some power due to incoherent overlapping dialogue delivered over the mortally wounded body of one of the characters. Most of the film takes place in Ma (Emma Dunn) and Pa's (Frank Sheridan) homey apartment during dinners and family gatherings, and the apartment set looks like it's on an actual theater stage. The Moores are all fine, with Tom the most expressive and Matt a little wooden. There is no background music at all, which I'm used to in movies from the early sound era, but it was a bit startling that there wasn't even any music during the opening credits. There is, however, a short musical number performed at Barney's party which features an uncredited George Raft. (Picture is of Matt, Owen, and Tom Moore, from Goldensilents.com) [TCM]

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