Monday, January 5, 2015

Mixing up gangster movies

There's a subset of gangster movies that involves the families of the gangsters. Or, more specifically, children of the gang heads who grow up and want to live their lives in a way that involves turning their backs on the gang, and how this is a lot more difficult than it might sound. I'm not talking about a movie like The Public Enemy. In htat, even though James Cagney's gangster character has a brother who's a policeman and is trying ot convince Mom not to take the dirty gang money, it's still the Cagney character who's the main character. No; in the movies I'm thinking of, the gangsters are important to the plot, but not the main focus per se.

I mention this because as part of a birthday salute to Loretta Young tomorrow, TCM is running The Ruling Voice at 10:15 AM. Loretta Young plays the daughter of Walter Huston. Dad is the head of a "businessmen's association" which is a polite way of saying he runs the protection racket. Don't pay them, and you can't do business. Dad's been keeping his daughter relatively in the dark by having her study abroad at European finishing schools, which is where she met David Manners, whom she wants to marry. That is, until she learns the truth about what her father does.

The Ruling Voice sounds like one of those movies that I think I've seen before, but I'm not quite certain. I know that I'm not mixing it up with The Guilty Generation, another movie from around the same time. In that one, Robert Young and Constance Cummings play children in families on either side of a gang war. Young's character has been studying architecture to try to get out of the mob business; Cummings bieng a daughter isn't so involved in the game. They meet and fall in love, and the consequences are predictable. This one doesn't seem to be scheduled on TCM any time soon.

There's a third movie from the beginning of the sound era that I remember fairly distinctly, except that I can't remember the title. In this one, the gangster father had two sons. One had been raised to take over the business, the other grew up more or less clean. Mom's dying, and wants to see the other son before she dies, so the elder brother rounds up the kid brother, who ultimately winds up in the bootlegging business himself. I know this is an early talkie because I remember how much the sets fit the whole early talkie time frame in terms of production values, which were often on par with those of late silents like The Racket. But dammit, I just can't remember the title of this particular movie.

Enjoy the Loretta Young pre-Codes tomorrow!

No comments: