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I Cover the Waterfront (1933)

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I Cover the Waterfront (1933)

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Director: James Cruze

Cast: Ben Lyon, Claudette Colbert, Ernest Torrence, Hobart Cavanaugh, Maurice Black, Purnell Platt, Harry Beresford, Wilfred Lucas,  Rosita Marstini

75 min

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I Cover the Waterfront is a 1933 American Pre-Code romantic drama film directed by James Cruze and starring Ben LyonClaudette ColbertErnest Torrence, and Hobart Cavanaugh.

Based on the book of the same name by Max Miller, the film is about a reporter who investigates a waterfront smuggling operation, and becomes romantically involved with the daughter of the man he is investigating.

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San Diego Standard reporter H. Joseph Miller (Ben Lyon) has been covering the city’s waterfront for the past five years and is fed up with the work. He longs to escape the waterfront life and land a newspaper job back East so he can marry his Vermont sweetheart. Miller is frustrated by the lack of progress of his current assignment investigating the smuggling of Chinese people into the country by a fisherman named Eli Kirk (Ernest Torrence). One morning after wasting a night tracking down bad leads, his editor at the Standard orders him to investigate a report of a girl swimming naked at the beach. There he meets Julie Kirk (Claudette Colbert), the daughter of the man he’s been investigating.

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Meanwhile, Eli Kirk and his crew are returning to San Diego with a Chinese passenger when the Coast Guard approaches. Not wanting to be caught with evidence of his smuggling operation, Kirk orders his men to weigh down the Chinaman and lower him overboard to his death. The Coast Guard, accompanied by Miller, board the boat but find nothing. The next day, Miller discovers the Chinaman’s body which was carried in with the tide, and takes it as evidence to his editor, who still remains skeptical of Kirk’s guilt. To get conclusive evidence, Miller tells him he plans to romance Kirk’s daughter Julie in order to break the smuggling operation.

When Kirk returns, he informs Julie that they will need to move on soon—maybe to Singapore—as soon as he can put together enough money for the voyage. One night, Julie discovers her father drunk at a boarding house. Miller, who was there investigating Kirk, helps Julie take her father home. Julie does not discourage Miller’s flirtations, and during the next few weeks they fall in love. She is able to help Miller see the beauty of the waterfront, and inspires him to improve the novel he’s been working for the past five years. While visiting an old Spanish galleon on a date, he playfully restrains her in a torture rack and kisses her passionately—and she returns his passion.

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Julie and Miller spend a romantic evening together on the beach, where she reveals that she and her father will be sailing away in the next few days. After spending the night in Miller’s apartment, Julie announces the next morning that she’s decided to stay, hoping that he will stay with her. When Miller learns from her that her father is due to dock at the Chinese settlement that night, he notifies the Coast Guard. At the dock, while the Coast Guard searches the vessel, Miller discovers a Chinaman hidden inside a large shark. When the Coast Guard attempt to arrest Kirk, he flees the scene but is wounded during his escape.

The next morning, Miller’s breaking story is published on the Standard’s front page. When a wounded Kirk makes his way back home, Julie learns that it was Miller who helped the Coast Guard uncover her father’s smuggling operation (of which she was unaware), and that she unknowingly revealed to him his landing location. Soon after, Miller, feeling guilty over the story’s impact to Julie’s life, arrives at her home and apologizes for the hurt he’s caused her, and announces that he loves her. Feeling used by his actions, an angry Julie sends him away.

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Later that night, Miller locates Kirk, who shoots him in the arm. Julie arrives to help her father escape, and seeing Miller wounded, she tells her father she cannot leave Miller to die. Seeing that she loves him, Kirk helps her take Miller to safety, after which Kirk dies. Later from his hospital bed, Miller acknowledges in his newspaper column that Kirk saved his life before he died. Sometime later, Miller returns to his apartment, where Julie is waiting to greet him. Noticing that she cleaned and transformed his place into a cozy home, he tells her he finally wrote the ending to his novel, “He marries the girl”. Julie acknowledges, “That’s a swell finish”, and the two embrace.

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Rights to the novel were bought by Edward Small and his partner Harry Goets in 1932. They made it through the Reliance Picture Corporation as the first of a six-film deal with United Artists.[2] Reliance co-produced the film with Joseph Schenck’s Art Cinema Corporation.[1]


I Cover the Waterfront was filmed from mid-February to early March 1933.[1]


The film’s title song, “I Cover the Waterfront“, appears in the film only as an instrumental.[3] Written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman, the song went on to become a jazz standard recorded by many artists, including Billie HolidayLouis ArmstrongFrank SinatraThe Ink Spots, and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.[4]

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Critical response

In his review for The New York Times, film critic Mordaunt Hall called the film “a stolid and often grim picture”.[5] While Hall felt the drama was not as good as some of director James Cruze’s previous work, the “clever acting of the principals”—especially that of Ernest Torrence—offset some of the film’s shortcomings.[5]

Hall found some of the scenes “more shocking than suspenseful” and felt a broader adaptation of Max Miller’s book may have been more interesting than the focus on the melodramatic series of incidents related to a sinister fisherman.[5]

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While acknowledging that “Colbert does well as Julie”, Hall did not find her convincing as a fisherman’s daughter because she does not look the type.[5] Hall reserved his highest praise for Ernest Torrence in his final screen performance.[5] Torrence died on May 15, 1933, shortly after the film was completed.

John Mosher of The New Yorker described the adaptation as a “commonplace screen romance,” but also praised the performance of the late Torrence, writing that he “was at the height of his power … One can foresee that many pictures will be empty things for lack of him.”[6] Variety called it “a moderately entertaining picture … The late Ernest Torrence has the meat part and his performance is in keeping with the standard he had set for himself. A pretty tough assignment they gave him, one in which it was necessary to capture sympathy in face of the worst sort of opposition from the script. He’ll be sorely missed on the screen.”[7]

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I Cover the Waterfront was remade in 1961 by Edward Small as Secret of Deep Harbor.[3]

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b c “I Cover the Waterfront”American Film Institute. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Babcock, Muriel (September 24, 1932). “Notable Novel to be Filmed”. The New York Times. p. A7.
  3. Jump up to:a b “I Cover the Waterfront: Notes”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Discogs. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e Hall, Mordaunt (May 18, 1933). “The Late Ernest Torrence in His Last Picture…”The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ Mosher, John (May 27, 1933). “The Current Cinema”. The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 49.
  7. Jump up^ “I Cover the Waterfront”. Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. May 23, 1933. p. 15.

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Framed (1930)

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Framed (1930)

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Director: George Archainbaud

Cast: Evelyn Brent, Regis Toomey, Ralf Harolde, William Holden, Maurice Black, Robert Emmet O’Connor, Eddie Kane

65 min

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Framed is an 1930 American pre-Code crime action film, directed by George Archainbaud, based on a screenplay by Paul Schofield and Wallace Smith. It starred Evelyn Brent, William Holden (no relation to the Oscar-winning actor, William Holden), Regis Toomey and Ralf Harolde.

Plot summary

When Rose Manning’s father is killed during a robbery by Inspector McArthur, Manning vows to avenge his death. Five years elapse, and Rose is now the owner of a nightclub, and her liquor supplier, the bootlegger Chuck Gaines is interested in her. Still plotting her revenge, she meets Jimmy McArthur, who she does not realize is the son of the inspector. Spurning Gaines’ advances, Rose becomes romantically involved with Jimmy. Her motivations waver as her emotional attachment to the young McArthur grows, until her relationship takes precedence over her revenge.

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Chuck, jealous of the growing relationship between Rose and Jimmy, plots with his cohort, Bing Murdock, to murder both the inspector and his son. Uncovering the plan, Rose is attempting to warn Jimmy, when his father raids her club. In the ensuing chaos, Jimmy kills Gaines in order to protect Rose, after Gaines attacked her in a fit of jealous rage. When the inspector finally realizes that what Rose and Jimmy have is real affection for one another, he removes any objections over their relationship.

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  1. Jump up to:a b c Framed: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved June 7, 2014.

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Twin Husbands (1933)

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Twin Husbands (1933)

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Director: Frank R Strayer

Cast: John Miljan, Shirley Grey, Monroe Owsley, Hale Hamilton, Robert Elliott, Wilson Benge, Maurice Black, Robert Walker

68 min

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Twin Husbands is a 1933 American Pre-Code film directed by Frank R. Strayer.

Plot summary

After he wakes from a deep sleep in a strange Long Island mansion, a dazed man finds a calendar dated 1938, four years later than his last recollection, and evidence that his name is Jerome “Jerry” Peyton Werrenden. Greyson, a butler, tells Jerry that he is the mansion’s owner and that he has been ailing mentally for months.

Jerry, however, quickly deduces that he has been kidnapped and drugged and that Greyson was hired to pose as a longtime servant as part of a scheme to convince him that he is suffering from amnesia.

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Curious about the scheme, Jerry pays Greyson to continue his part, while he pretends to be Werrenden with Chloe, his supposed wife, and with Colton Drain, his supposed secretary. When Chloe and Colton realize that Jerry is wise to the plot, they offer him $10,000 to impersonate Werrenden, who is living in Europe, in a meeting with Colonel Gordon Lewis, the estate trustee, who has been asked to deliver $200,000 in bonds. Jerry accepts the offer and, while waiting for the colonel, overhears Chloe and Colton discussing plans to leave for South America.

After requesting a signed receipt, Lewis, apparently fooled by the impersonation, gives Jerry the bonds, which Jerry then places in a safe, the combination to which only the real Werrenden knows. Later that night, Colton and Chloe discover two thugs, Feets and Chuck, breaking into the safe.

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When the thugs see Jerry, they identify him as The Sparrow, a master “cracksman,” and as a favor to his fellow crooks, Jerry allows them to escape before the police arrive. After a confused interrogation of Chloe, Colton, Lewis and Greyson about Jerry’s identity, Sergeant Kerrigan orders Jerry and Chloe to police headquarters. To Chloe’s surprise, however, Jerry takes her to his house, explaining that Greyson had telephoned his minion, Kerrigan, with orders to impersonate a police sergeant.

After Jerry determines that Chloe was actually trying to save her ne’er-do-well husband from the financial scheming of Colton, he confronts Lewis about the bonds. Cornered, Lewis confesses that he had hired Feets and Chuck to steal the bonds because he needed the money to cover his own overdraughts.

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Jerry then breaks into Colton’s private vaults and unearths several documents that reveal that Colton had covered up news of Werrenden’s death and had stolen his securities. Jerry returns to the Werrenden mansion and shows Chloe, with whom he has fallen in love, his evidence. Supported by Chloe, a repentant Lewis and Greyson, Jerry convinces the police that he is Werrenden and that Colton is suffering a nervous breakdown.

Unable to expose Colton to the police because of his own criminal activities, Jerry nonetheless satisfies Chloe by forcing Colton to agree to leave immediately for South America. Chloe then convinces a reformed Jerry not to run away, but to stay with her indefinitely.

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Lonely Wives (1931)

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Lonely Wives (1931)

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Director: Russell Mack 

Cast: Edward Everett Horton, Esther Ralston, Laura La Plante, Patsy Ruth Miller, Spencer Charters, Maude Eburne, Maurice Black

85 min

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Lonely Wives is a 1931 American comedy film directed by Russell Mack and produced by E.B. Derr for Pathé Exchange, and was distributed by RKO Pictures after the merger of the two studios; it starred Edward Everett Horton, Esther Ralston, Laura La Plante, and Patsy Ruth Miller.

The screenplay was written by Walter DeLeon, based upon a successful German Vaudeville act entitled Tanzanwaltz, penned by Pordes Milo, Walter Schütt, and Dr. Eric Urban. The German production had been translated for the American stage by DeLeon and Mark Swan and, under the same title as the film.

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Plot summary

Edward Everett Horton, in dual roles as Richard and Felix, the Great Zero.

Richard “Dickie” Smith (Edward Everett Horton), is a seemingly respectable defense attorney by day, who turns into a philandering Don Juan when the clock strikes 8 o’clock.

His wife, Madeline (Esther Ralston), has been away for several months, and is not expected back anytime soon. However, Madeline’s mother, Mrs. Mantel (Maude Eburne) is staying with the Smiths, in an effort to curtail the possibility of any straying by Richard.

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Unbeknownst to her, he has made plans to go out on the town that night with his new, sultry secretary Kitty Minter (Patsy Ruth Miller), and his new sexy client, Diane O’Dare (Laura La Plante), who, a lonely wife herself, wishes to divorce her husband for neglect.

The issue is how can he go out on the town without alerting his mother-in-law. An issue which is seemingly resolved by the arrival at his home of a vaudeville impersonator: Felix, the Great Zero (also played by Edward Everett Horton). Felix is seeking permission to impersonate the famous lawyer on-stage. At first reluctant, Richard, noticing the striking resemblance between himself and the actor, realizes he might have a way to deceive Mrs. Mantel. In order to obtain his approval, Felix must agree to impersonate him at his house that evening, while he goes out.

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While Richard goes out on the town, he discovers that Diane’s husband is none other than Felix. Meanwhile, Madeline arrives home unannounced and early.Thinking that he is about to be exposed, Felix phones the nightclub where Richard has taken the two women for dinner and drinks. As he waits for the return phone call, much to his surprise, rather than exposing him as an imposter, Madeline begins to come on to him. He attempts to resist, trying to hold out until he can speak to Richard, but he succumbs to her charms just as the phone begins ringing.

When Richard returns home the next morning, Felix is still there. He is followed closely by a very inebriated Diane, with whom it seems he has spent his time away from home. When Felix recognizes Diane, and Richard understands that Felix has spent the night at his house, both men believe that his look-a-like has slept with the others’ wife. After a series of events, Smith ends up chasing Zero with a loaded gun. Meanwhile, Andrews, the Butler, (Spencer Charters), thinks he must have the DT’s, seeing double of his employer.

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The truth comes out when Madeline admits that she knew it wasn’t Richard all along, and other than the kissing, nothing happened between the two of them. Diane admits that she spent the night in the cab, riding around, and not with Richard. Reconciled, Richard is cured of his wandering ways and Felix and Diane are reunited.


(Cast as per AFI database)[5]

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Tie-in advertisement for Jo-Cur Beauty Products and Lonely Wives.

Pathé announced that the film was going into production in mid-November 1930, with Russell Mack at the helm.[6] Shortly after, it was reported that La Plante had been attached to the cast;[7] La Plante was returning to films after a brief seven-month hiatus, during which time speculation arose that her career might be over.

Her appearance in this film, and its success, would re-ignite her career.[8] On December 7, it was learned that DeLeon would be adapting the story into a screenplay,[9] and on the 10th the announcement came that Esther Ralston and Patsy Ruth Miller would be added to the list of cast members, along with Edward Everett Horton.[10]

Horton and Miller had co-starred the prior year in four films together for Warner Brothers.[11] The following day, December 11, The Film Daily announced that the film had begun production.[12]Included in the cast was Spencer Charters, who had acted with Mack in several Broadway plays.[13]

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Pathe announced that the film would be part of its 1931 schedule, and it began to appear on its list of upcoming releases in the trades, but without a specific release date.[14] The release was held up in late January due to the sale of Pathe to RKO Pictures. By the end of the month the go-ahead was given to release the film.[15] Finally on February 16 RKO announced they would be releasing the film the following week.[16]

Several days prior to its release, Pathe announced that the marketing campaign for the film would include “tie-ins” with a coterie of manufacturers and retail stores. The campaign would include drug stores and department stores, and have advertising material supplied by manufacturers such as Underwood (typewriters), John H. Woodbury (toiletries), and Jo-Cur Laboratories (beauty products).[17] Lonely Wives was released by RKO on February 22, 1931.[5]

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  • “Madeline”, unknown composer
  • “Baby Feet”, unknown composer, sung by Maude Eburne[1]

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Mordaunt Hall, the film critic for the New York Times, gave the film a positive review, calling the direction “skillful”, and singles out the performance of several of the actors, including Esther Ralston, Maude Eburne, Patsy Ruth Miller, and Spencer Charters.

He was especially impressed with Horton, stating that he “delivers a wonderfully clever dual impersonation …”, and is “wonderfully amusing”.[18] The Film Daily also gave the film a nod of approval, calling it “… one of the cleverest and most entertaining comedies of the season”.

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They particularly highlighted the direction of Mack, Horton’s performance in his dual role, as well as complimenting the rest of the cast. The trade paper also gave the highest marks to the cinematography of Edward Snyder.[19]

Photoplay listed it as one of the best films of the month in February 1931, singling out the acting talents of Horton, Ralston, La Plante, and Miller.[20] Picture Play Magazine was a bit more reserved in their review of the film.

While they called it “… the most consistently broad comedy of any film since “The Cock-eyed World”,” they also stated that it was “supposedly hilarious”.[21]

Other positive reviews came from: Billboard, “… destined to be one of the laugh highlights of the screen year”; Motion Picture Herald, “Highly sophisticated comedy, goes over with a great laugh”; Los Angeles Express, “Fast, furious, frothy farce. Lonely Wives is a laugh riot”; and Motion Picture Daily, “Laughs keep rolling out in a steady deluge of ultra-sophisticated wise cracks.”[22]

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In 1959, the film entered the public domain in the USA due to the copyright claimants failure to renew the copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[23]

It was released on DVD by Roan/Troma Entertainment in 2001.[24]

The English translation of the 1912 German vaudeville act, Tanzanwaltz, entitled Lonely Wives, written by DeLeon and Mark Swan, was produced by A.H. Woods in Stamford, Connecticut on August 11, 1922.[2] The play was scheduled to open in New York in August 1922, starring a well-known female impersonator of that time, Julian Eltinge as its star, but was never produced, apparently because while humorous, it had no value or integrity.[25]

The film was acquired by RKO when they purchased Pathé Exchange in January 1931.[25]

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  1. ^ Jump up to:a b “Lonely Wives: Technical Details”. theiapolis.com. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b “Lonely Wives: Screenplay Info”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  3. Jump up^ “Lonely Wives, Credits”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 34. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Lonely Wives: Detail View”. American Film Institute. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (November 12, 1930). “Hollywood Flashes”. The Film Daily. p. 5.
  7. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (November 25, 1930). “Hollywood Flashes”. The Film Daily. p. 6.
  8. Jump up^ “News And Gossip”. Motion Picture Magazine. April 1931. p. 94.
  9. Jump up^ “6 Features And 6 Shorts In The Works At Pathe”. The Film Daily. December 7, 1930. p. 4.
  10. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (December 10, 1930). “Hollywood Flashes”. The Film Daily. p. 8.
  11. Jump up^ “A Little From “Lots””. The Film Daily. December 21, 1930. p. 4.
  12. Jump up^ Wilk, Ralph (December 11, 1930). “Hollywood Flashes”. The Film Daily. p. 6.
  13. Jump up^ “A Little From “Lots””. The Film Daily. December 26, 1930. p. 7.
  14. Jump up^ “Complete Release Chart:Pathe Coming Feature Attractions”. Motion Picture News. December 6, 1930. p. 125.
  15. Jump up^ “Pathe-RKO Deal Still Awaiting Signatures”. The Film Daily. January 30, 1931. p. 1.
  16. Jump up^ “”Lonely Wives” Release Feb. 22″. The Film Daily. February 16, 1931. p. 2.
  17. Jump up^ “Exploitettes:Three Big Tie-ups On “Lonely Wives””. The Film Daily. February 18, 1931. p. 3.
  18. Jump up^ Hall, Mordaunt (March 16, 1931). “Lonely Wives: The Lawyer and His Double”. New York Times. Archived from the original on August 15, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  19. Jump up^ “Lonely Wives”. The Film Daily. February 15, 1931. p. 10.
  20. Jump up^ “The Shadow Stage: The Best Pictures of the Month”. Photoplay. May 1931. p. 49.
  21. Jump up^ “The Screen In Review: Lonely Wives”. Picture Play Magazine. June 1931. p. 98.
  22. Jump up^ “Sell Laughs and You’ll Sell Seats!”. Variety. February 25, 1931. pp. 14–15.
  23. Jump up^ Pierce, David (June 2007). “Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain”. Film History: An International Journal. 19 (2): 125–43. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. See Note #60, pg. 143
  24. Jump up^ “The Troma Shop”. Troma Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  25. ^ Jump up to:a b “Lonely Wives, Notes”. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the originalon August 15, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014.

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Street Of Chance (1930)

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Street Of Chance (1930)

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Director: John Cromwell

Cast: Kay Francis, William Powell, Jean Arthur, Regis Toomey, Stanley Fields, Brooks Benedict, Maurice Black, Irving Bacon, John Risso, Joan Standing

75 min

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Street of Chance is a 1930 American pre-Code film directed by John Cromwell and starring William Powell, Jean Arthur, Kay Francis and Regis Toomey. Howard Estabrook was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Writing, Achievement.

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John Marsden, a famed and powerful New York gambler who refuses to throw a game, is devoted to his wife, Alma, and his impressionistic younger brother, “Babe,” to whom he sends a wedding gift of $10,000, which Babe may keep on the condition that he does not indulge in gambling. Alma, dismayed by John’s ruthless tactics and his obsession with gambling, threatens to leave him unless he takes his winnings and leaves the city with her. He agrees.

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However, that evening Babe, who has become a cardsharp, comes to town with his new wife, Judith. He goes to see his brother, whom he believes is a stockbroker, unaware of John’s true profession and the reality that he is trying to quit and rebuild his marriage. Babe insists on playing and tries to win a fortune with his savings in an organized gambling session. He wins remarkably. The professional gambler sees that his card-playing sibling is preparing to make the same mistakes he did.

John therefore decides to risk his life and gamble one more time, and to break the gambler’s code and cheat by throwing the game, in order to disillusion Babe, thereby teaching him an unforgettable lesson. However, John is caught cheating by Dorgan and becomes a marked man. John is later mortally wounded, in spite of his wife’s attempts to save him.

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