The Last Gangster

  • 1937
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

Only the extravagant acting of Robinson lifts this rather routine crime yarn above the average. He plays a big-shot crime czar who returns from Europe after marrying youthful Stradner. But much of Robinson's empire has been eroded by rival gang activities. He launches a gang war and is about to regain the upper hand when one of his opponents informs the...read more

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Only the extravagant acting of Robinson lifts this rather routine crime yarn above the average. He plays a big-shot crime czar who returns from Europe after marrying youthful Stradner. But much of Robinson's empire has been eroded by rival gang activities. He launches a gang war and is

about to regain the upper hand when one of his opponents informs the police of Robinson's activities. Robinson is sent to jail and his wife promises to stick by him. She and her newly delivered baby take a lot of abuse from the authorities and San Francisco newspapers, so much so that Stewart, a

sympathetic reporter, writes a number of articles showing her in a good light. He is fired for his efforts. Stradner, meanwhile, visits Robinson in prison, where he reveals a barbaric nature that destroys her love for him. Stewart befriends Stradner and later marries her after persuading her to

divorce her gangster husband. Stewart and Stradner move to Massachusetts, where Stewart adopts Robinson's child and becomes a successful editor. After 10 years, Robinson is released from prison; he has only one thing on his mind, finding his ex-wife and son. One of his goons, Stander, convinces

Robinson to take over the old gang, but when he arrives at a meeting, his old partners in crime beat him up and then torture him in order to find out where he has buried the money he hid before going into prison. When Robinson won't talk, Stander and gang kidnap his 10-year-old son and threaten to

injure him unless Robinson talks. He does, and when the gang runs for the money, Robinson and the boy escape. The boy, Scott, refuses to acknowledge Robinson as his father, which incenses the gangster. He is so embittered by now that he vows to kill Stewart and Stradner for allowing his son to

forget him. But when Robinson arrives with Scott at Stewart's home, he realizes that the editor and his ex-wife are warm, considerate people who have given the boy a fine home. He leaves his son, realizing that Scott will have a better life without him and his tainted name. Baxter, one of the

gangsters Robinson tried to kill years earlier, tracks him down and shoots him; Robinson dies holding his son's merit badges in his hand. This was Robinson's first film at MGM since 1929, and, years later, he marveled at taking the part of the aging gangster, especially after he had informed his

home studio, Warner Bros., that he would no longer play snarling hoodlums and had demanded and got script approval for his films. It was supposed to be a swan song for the gangster, one that went on wailing for years to come; Robinson would be playing the crime czar for decades to come in such

films as KEY LARGO and HELL ON FRISCO BAY. This was one of Stewart's first substantial leading roles at MGM, where he was being groomed for stardom. He made a favorable impression playing the do-good editor but looked a bit ludicrous in a mustache. Stradner, an accomplished Viennese actress,

failed to excite American audiences and her film career in Hollywood quickly faded.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Only the extravagant acting of Robinson lifts this rather routine crime yarn above the average. He plays a big-shot crime czar who returns from Europe after marrying youthful Stradner. But much of Robinson's empire has been eroded by rival gang activities.… (more)

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