A few films were made about the life of notorious bookie Arnold Rothstein. The story served as the basis for STREET OF CHANCE, with William Powell as the urbane gangland leader; then David Janssen did it several years later in THE BIG BANKROLL. In between, bits and pieces of Rothstein's
character emerged in various pictures, but this one purports to tell the truth, and is based on a story written by Rothstein's widow, although the names were changed. The casting of Tracy seemed awry to anyone who knew what Rothstein looked and sounded like. Tracy is a gambler in a race with time.
He means to make his bundle in a hurry and won't allow anyone to stand in his way. This ambition soon propels him to the top of his ill-advised profession and his pockets are bulging with money; but his domestic life is a shambles, as he seldom sees his wife, Twelvetrees. She is a social climber
who yearns for invitations from the Four Hundred, although her husband's "work" seems to make that impossible. Tracy says he'll quit as soon as he reaches his goal of amassing $200,000, but once he has that amount, he ups the figure to $500,000, and when that's in the coffers, Tracy reneges on his
word. As so often happens to a man with lots of new money, Tracy meets a bombshell, Faye, who toils in a nightspot, and takes her as his mistress. Faye would like Tracy to dump Twelvetrees and marry her, but he enjoys things the way they are. His wife represents stability and security, and his
mistress gives him the outside stimulation he desperately desires. Gleckler is another gambler who suspects that Tracy fixed a prize fight which cost Gleckler a pile of money. The second gambler is eager to nail the first, so he abducts Twelvetrees. Racing back to the Big Apple to try and rescue
his wife, Tracy is involved in a car accident in which he is badly hurt and Faye is killed. (This is the only film in which Faye bit the dust.) Twelvetrees can't put up with another minute of Tracy's behavior, so she leaves and goes to Europe where she will get a divorce from him. Gleckler
continues to hound Tracy at every turn, and Tracy is distraught and confused with both of the women in his life gone. He has nowhere to go, so he buys a large insurance policy with the money he gets by pawning Twelvetrees' expensive jewels. There is a confrontation with Gleckler and Tracy is shot.
He is dying when Twelvetrees comes to his side and assures him that he'll get better and that they can resume their lives together. It's to no avail, and Tracy's toes turn up at the conclusion. The full title of the movie was NOW I'LL TELL BY MRS. ARNOLD ROTHSTEIN, but theater managers thought
that was a bit lengthy, especially since they had double features in those days and there would be no room for anything else on the marquee. Shirley Temple, then only six, performed one of a quartet of roles she did in 1934 and has a small four-liner as Henry O'Neill's daughter. The idea that
Tracy deliberately staged his own assassination may just be a bit of fancy on the part of Mrs. Rothstein because he was hardly the type for a beau geste. Twelvetrees was not right in the role of the long-suffering wife, but Faye couldn't have been better as the other woman. She also got the chance
to sing "Foolin' Around with the Other Woman's Man" in an all-black satin outfit, replete with black feathers and a black fan. The contrast against her blonde locks and pale skin was stunning. The other song was "Harlem versus the Jungle." Both tunes were written by Lew Brown and Harry Akst.
Rothstein was a fascinating human being who arranged many things, including the "Black Sox" scandal in baseball (or so it was alleged), but the thought that he also arranged his own death is a bit much.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A few films were made about the life of notorious bookie Arnold Rothstein. The story served as the basis for STREET OF CHANCE, with William Powell as the urbane gangland leader; then David Janssen did it several years later in THE BIG BANKROLL. In between,… (more)