Robinson, though top-billed here, appears all too briefly in this grim, almost murky crime drama. He is the father of four sons, the favorite being Conte who opens the film by being released from Sing Sing after serving seven years for bribery. He returns to New York's Little Italy and goes to his father's trust company where brothers Adler, Valentine,...read more
Robinson, though top-billed here, appears all too briefly in this grim, almost murky crime drama. He is the father of four sons, the favorite being Conte who opens the film by being released from Sing Sing after serving seven years for bribery. He returns to New York's Little Italy and goes
to his father's trust company where brothers Adler, Valentine, and Zimbalist greet him affably, offer him money, and are collectively offended when he spurns their friendship and greenbacks. Conte then visits Hayward at her apartment; she tries to convince him to leave New York with her
immediately and begin a new life. The embittered Conte rejects this notion; all he can think of is taking vengeance upon his brothers and he soon goes to the family mansion where he stands before a portrait of father Robinson. The memories come flooding back in flashback. It's 1932 and Robinson is
shown making loan after loan but at exorbitant interest rates. At home he is an absolute tyrant, lording it over his sons--cunning and self-serving Adler, the oldest; Zimbalist the clothes horse; Valentine a dumb-head who is an amateur boxer; and Conte, the smart, loyal son. Though Conte is
engaged to young, pretty Paget, he tumbles for Hayward the minute she enters his office seeking financial advice, and a steamy affair ensues. Robinson, meanwhile, has gotten himself entangled in deep legal problems through his unorthodox lending methods. He is indicted and all his sons save Conte
desert him. Conte goes so far as to bribe a juror at Robinson's trial, a fact traitorous Adler points out to police which gets Conte arrested and sent to prison. Robinson is set free through a mistrial but, before he dies, Robinson visits Conte in prison and tells him how his brothers have
betrayed them both. The three brothers have taken over the business and are living like kings. Zimbalist has married Paget and Robinson demands that Conte swear to even the score with his siblings. He does, which leads us back to the present. By this time Robinson has died of a broken heart and
busted bank account and the brothers know they must get rid of Conte. In a fight, Valentine nearly kills Conte, and Conte now sees his quest for vengeance is pointless and departs with Hayward.
There is little or no humor here, merely a tough, sometimes hard-to-take story. This is Conte's film all the way and his stoic personality bogs down the story considerably, although it is well-directed by Mankiewicz. In the style of the day, the costuming for this film, though mostly set in the
1930s, maintained the late 1940s styles, particularly Hayward's wardrobe. Then, as they would be through the 1960s, revisionist views were in full force. Hayward is merely a prop in this, her first film for Fox. Her star contract got her $5,000-a-week, specifying that she not be ordered to cut her
hair and would not do so unless she agreed, that she would not be asked to work beyond 6 p.m., and that she had her pick of hairdressers, makeup personnel, and cinematographers.
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