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Movie Critique - Larceny, Inc.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A fun and entertaining gangster comedy film about inept crooks who have the end game in the right intentions but the course to it is filled with larceny through and through.

Larceny, Inc. is a 1942 American comedy-crime film directed by Llyod Bacon and released by Warner Bros. The film includes Edward G. Robinson, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, Jack Carson, Anthony Quinn and Edward Brophy in main cast. It is based on 1941 play The Night Before Christmas by Laura Perelman and S. J. Perelman, a husband-and-wife duo of writers. Screenplay for the film was given by Everett Freeman and Edwin Gilbert. 

J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell (portrayed by Edward G. Robinson) upon released from jail decides to go straight supported by his bumbling accomplices Jug Martin (portrayed by Broderick Crawford). He plans to go into a legitimate business of dog racing with his adopted daughter Denny Costello (portrayed by Jane Wyman). But when the bank rejects his loan, he resorts to rob the bank. And thus begins this comedy of errors gangster tale of Maxwell and his troubles to go straight. 

This is one other of Robinson's movies where he accepted the role to get away from tough-guy gangster type roles. Recently I posted about 1940 American crime-comedy Brother Orchid, again Robinson in the lead, which he took that role again for similar reasons. You can see the depth in his acting and the way he can do variety of roles at ease, even if he was making a fool of himself.

Jane Wyman as Denny Costello comes across as an elegant lady who wants to keep her adopted father out of trouble. She is cute with wit and charm in the film. Her beau in the film is Jack Carson playing the part of a fast-talking luggage salesman Jeff Randolph. Together they form a handsome couple. Although when I recently watched Jack Carson in the 1945 American crime-drama film noir Mildred Pierce, I didn’t expect this side of his acting at all. 

Another fun thing to watch was to see Anthony Quinn portraying the role of Leo Dexter make Edward G. Robinson's Pressure Maxwell squirm; and giving orders all around. 

The film was released with the alternate title "A Night Before Christmas" but on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the film was aired with the original title. Jug Martin (played by Broderick Crawford) shoes his middle finger when he keeps telling "It slipped" at the baseball game in the opening scene. I wonder how it got past the censor board at that time.

Screenplay certainly comes with some funny quotes and comic talk. The whole purse wrapping scene in the leather store cracked me up a lot. 

J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: [to the warden on his parole] I'm prepared to meet society, but is society prepared to meet me?
Jug Martin: Hey, fellas. look! Let's crack that bank on Sixth Avenue, huh? / J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: You say that once again, and I'm gonna crack that skull of yours on Seventh Avenue.
Mademoiselle Gloria: Well I wish you'd drop in and look over my lingerie sometime. / J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: Well, you drop in sometime and look over my trunks.
Third Customer: Do you sell luggage here? / 'Pressure' Maxwell: Oh no. We just keep the merchandise around for laughs.

A fun and entertaining gangster comedy film about inept crooks who have the end game in the right intentions but the course to it is filled with larceny through and through. Wonder why it hadn't become more popular, but I could watch this film over and over again. Definitely going into my list of feel good movies. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. The 2000 American crime-comedy film Small Time Crooks has a very similar plot, written and directed by Woody Allen.

b. Jackie Gleason, famous American comedian, actor, composer, writer and conductor; can be seen as playing the role of Hobart, the Soda Shop Clerk - one of his early film appearances.

c. This is fourth of the five films that Edward G. Robinson and Edward Brophy (portraying the role of Weepy Davis) worked together. The other four were - 1935 The Whole Town's Talking; 1937 The Last Gangster; 1938 A Slight Case of Murder; and 1943 Destroyer.

d. The film was remade as one episode on Gomer Pyle, USMC, TV show, titled "Dynamite Diner".

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. The film is set to take place shortly before Christmas but the check Pressure and his friends receive for at the beginning of the film is dated February 19.

b. The writing behind Pressure is in reverse shot. Looks like this one shot got reversed in editing.


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