Powell's role here is unusual. Instead of the suave sophisticated type he ordinarily played, he is an out-and-out con man. Powell returns from WW I and finds that his ideals won't make him a dime, and he will soon be selling apples on the corner if he doesn't improve his lot. Society girl
Williams, in a rare non-aquatic role, falls for Powell but withdraws from him as his nature turns decidedly avaricious. Powell had decided to put his scruples in the closet and rake in all the money he can. He sets up his down-and-out Broadway pals in a charity operation under the banner of St.
Dismas, the good thief crucified with Christ. He then goes into the money-making business with a vengeance, occupying his few off hours with nightclub singer Lansbury. Her voice dubbed, she sings "If I Had You" (Ted Shapiro, Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly) and "How Am I to Know" (Jack King, Dorothy
Parker), the latter song offering the only lyrics Dorothy Parker ever wrote. Powell turns into an utter cad, but he gets his comeuppance when the stock market collapses in 1929, and his fortune is wiped out. His nature reverts back to good guy as he finds religion with Gleason and pals who have
been involved in the St. Dismas charity movement which Powell had earlier tried to turn into a racket. Williams, who sees Powell's transformation to decent guy, returns to him for a happy if improbable ending. Taurog's direction is a bit sloppy, and the film lags due to an indecisive story. Powell
saves this one with his slick presence. Williams, pretty and statuesque, is bland, and Lansbury is miscast. Solid support comes from Gleason and other venerable character actors McHugh, Ragland, Summerville, and Stone. June's camerawork and Shilkret's score are above average. This film went lame
at the box office, mostly because customers wanted Powell as the unforgettable THIN MAN character Nick Charles, not some tin-horn hustler without a conscience. Benny Goodman and His Band contributed "Sweetheart" to the soundtrack.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Powell's role here is unusual. Instead of the suave sophisticated type he ordinarily played, he is an out-and-out con man. Powell returns from WW I and finds that his ideals won't make him a dime, and he will soon be selling apples on the corner if he does… (more)