Saturday, April 17, 2010


During a vicious heat wave, office drone Chester Morris is desperate to take his wife and child on vacation; he tries to get a salary advance but can't, so he turns to a loan shark (Leo Carillo) who gives him $50.00 for the vacation but charges him 10 bucks a week interest. When a promised raise at work doesn’t come through, Morris is left in debt to Carillo and his goons. He tries to go to the cops but the thugs threaten his family, and after he steals from the office's petty cash fund, he's fired even though he returns the money. The DA (Thomas Mitchell) knows about the gang but can't go after them unless someone steps up to testify. Will Morris be the one to break up Carillo's operation? This is the kind of hard-luck B-melodrama that Warner Brothers was churning out like crazy in the early years of the depression, but this one from Columbia must have seemed old-fashioned by 1937. Morris tries hard, but "family man" is not his strength. The acting overall is not very good, but weak writing may be part of the problem; the usually reliable Carillo is left spouting exposition every 10 minutes or so, and Helen Mack as Morris' wife has little to do except look worried. Mitchell would normally have stolen the show, but he seems aware how far beneath him the material is, so he sleepwalks through it. The memorable Marc Lawrence is one of the thugs. [TCM]

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