Friday, June 23, 2017


A gangster known as One-Eyed Mike is shot (through his good eye) and killed; his kid brother Joe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr., pictured), ambitious but restless, tells his gal Sarah (Colleen Moore) that he's gonna hit the big time, but legally. Sarah, a secretary at an advertising agency, gets him an office-boy job with her boss Merritt but he clashes with some of the upper-class college grads working there who Joe sees as lazy and entitled. Joe also strikes up a flirtatious conversation with Merritt's mistress Agnes (Genevieve Tobin)—her perfume gets him all hot and bothered and their racy dialogue implies the beginning of a sadomasochistic relationship. Eventually Joe is allowed to write ad copy for a cosmetic product, is a hit, and gets a promotion. During the Depression, Joe's drive and conniving put him ahead of the game and he winds up screwing Merritt out his job and his mistress—Joe dumps Sarah and marries Agnes. Soon life near the top starts to spin out of control and Joe decides he wants to start all over. But suicide might be the more attractive choice. This is a fairly compelling melodrama with Fairbanks the highlight. He dares to make his character both appealingly energetic and quite unlikable. Tobin is very good, as is Frank Morgan as Merritt. Joe's sudden ethical change of heart near the end is unconvincing, but it doesn't ruin the film. [TCM]

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