** out of 5
"It isn't you, and it isn't me. It's you and me."
Okay, so it wasn't not quite #Noirvember when I watched this film shortly before midnight on Oct 31st, but then this oddity in the Fritz Lang oevre isn't exactly Film Noir, either. But call it a proto-noir, or whatever you like, it's still got some noir-ish elements to it, despite being a pre-1941, pre-war film, so we'll give it a pass and let it be the first on this year's Noirvember countdown.
Now, when I say it's an oddity, I mean not that it's a strange film (since most Lang films could be considered as such), but that it's an odd choice for Lang- with its semi-musical, semi-romantic-comedy, semi-noir content. Yes, I said musical, but that's not ENTIRELY accurate. It has songs by Kurt Weill in it, beginning with the opening song, beginning with its defintely Weill-esque leit-opera stylings: a big number about how important money is in a capitalist society. Oddity is the best word I can think of to describe it.
But as I say, it's not TRULY a musical, there's only one other song, sung by Carol Paige as a performer in a club to which George Raft takes his girl, Sylvia Sidney. Oh-- and a really wild spoken-word piece performed by all his old gang-mates when they get together to reminisce about how much better off they were in prison, and in the gang, and together. Indeed, there are brief moments where it begins to feel less like a crime drama and more like Snow White and the Seven Hoodlums, making it a potentially interesting double-feature to watch back-to-back with Howard Hawks' screwball comedy, Ball of Fire (1941).
You'll notice I haven't mentioned plot, and I have no intention to. You really have to see it for yourself to appreciate its strangely endearing tale of ex-cons struggling to go straight and find a better life.
As a plus, you get to have some fun supporting performances by the like of Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Harry Carey, Roscoe Karns, Barton MacLane, George E Stone, Vera Gordon, and especially the goofy ex-con pal "Gimpy." played by the Warren Hymer.