Tag Archives: larceny inc

Looking Backward: Larceny, Inc. (1942)

21 Jul

larcenyincLike Rififi, except with all the bleakness and ennui replaced with Wacky, Larceny, Inc. was a fun little fluffball. But plot machinations are no fun to recapitulate, so let’s talk abot

The Warner Brothers character actor bench was bottomless, wasn’t it?* And in the studio system’s glory days, one week’s major supporting role was next week’s glorified walk-on.

Exempla gratis: the fellow Robinson buys the luggage shop, who summarily disappears, are Harry Davenport (to me, Merle Oberon’s gleefully wicked uncle in The Cowboy and the Lady, but also a director of early silents, Dr. Meade in Gone With the Wind, Mr. Dr.Barnes in Little Women (1949) and a plethora of Judges (Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer) and Grandpas (Meet Me in St. Louis).

The minor role of nearby merchant Sam Bacharach went to John Qualen, already playing an old man before he had even had a chance to talk in an extravagant Swedish accent in random Westerns, sea adventures, and of course His Girl Friday, The Grapes of Wrath, The Seventh Seal and Casablanca. Reasonable pedigree for a man who never was nor shall be a household name.

There’s even a tiny turn by a young Jackie Gleason doing a modified early version of a Joe the Bartender/Poor Soul amalgam. Young Jane Wyman. Young Anthony Quinn as a convict. Broderick Crawford as a lunkhead whose head keeps getting lunked. It’s packed, for a forgotten little bit of silliness.

And did I mention Edward Brophy?

edward-brophy-1-sizedOn another front, I don’t want to ruin something lovely by mentioning it in a way that will make it evident instead of seamless, but watch Edward G. Robinson’s, anytime but especially in comedy. The gestures are simultaneously a little clichéd and perfect. It’s also entirely possible that they only seem cliché because so many actors looked to Robinson for inspiration. The man is inarguably awfully good at his job.

Again, a relaxing fluffball, but one packed with quality people who did their jobs with clarity and precision. And also Jack Carson.

 

 

 

*Unless you count Jack Carson as the bottom. I’d hear that argument.

DVR Alert: Preston Sturges and more on 7/18

18 Jul

July 18 is another one of THOSE days on TCM, folks. Clear off those old Lawrence Welks; you’re going to need the room:

Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Shown from left: Barbara Jo Allen, Broderick Crawford, Edward Brophy, Edward G. Robinson, Jack Carson, Jane Wyman

10:30 a.m. – Larceny, Inc. (1942) – another Edward G. Robinson gangster comedy. Edward Brophy, people.

Then the Preston Sturges block begins – and just keeps going…

Preston-Sturges-0512:15 p.m. – Child of Manhattan (1933) – a melodrama based on a Sturges play;

1:30 p.m. – Christmas in July (1940) – a fun, oft-ignored early Sturges;

2:45 p.m. – Sullivan’s Travels (1941) – no introduction;

4:30 p.m. – Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) – the movie that made me fall in love with Sturges and a more-or-less spiritual sequel to Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, but far more subversive, in my opinion…;

6:15 p.m. – The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947) – aka Mad Wednesday, this late Harold Lloyd vehicle by Sturges was hacked to ribbons and is much maligned, but were I running a series of Second Looks, this would be on the list;

8:00 p.m. – The Palm Beach Story (1942) – about which I’ve already written, is the day’s last Sturges and the first of Frank Rich’s guest programmer picks. The second is;

manchurianflower-clubcig3209:45 p.m. – The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – the famed glorious political thriller that’s somehow more up-to-the-minute than the remake from a couple of years ago, and featuring the garden club ladies who can easily ruin The Andy Griffith Show for you;

Rules_of_the_Game_SS_CurrentMidnight – The Rules of the Game (1939) – Jean Renoir’s sort-of-romantic- comedy satire that’s also always prominently featured atop  lots and lots of Best Movie Ever lists;

 

2:00 a.m. – Petulia (1968) – of which I know nothing beyond that it stars Julie Christie and George C. Scott, is directed by Richard Lester, and looks like this…PETULIA-6which means I’ll give it a shot;

And last but not least,

alicetoklas.105f4:00 a.m. – I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968) one of those grand slices of late-60s wacky, with Peter Sellers. When I was young, it was dated. Now it’s a period piece. The sine wave of comedy’s aging process is sometimes tough to track. Regardless, I love it.

Enjoy! That should keep anyone busy for a while. Hide from the ozone in the best way possible.