Some good acting from a stellar cast can't save this Damon Runyon-like story from imploding. Cooper is an international con man and swindler whose wife died many years ago and whose child, Temple, now lives with his brother-in-law, Emery, who would like to have permanent custody. Cooper is
amenable to that, but requires the tidy sum of $75,000 as compensation. Cooper and Lombard are lovers and conning companions, and when she hears what he plans after they pull off a swindle in China, she is angered at the idea of selling a child and departs for Paris. Meanwhile, Cooper meets his
daughter for the first time since she's been in diapers and finds her an engaging tot (Temple had the ability to melt the steeliest heart) who is eager to spread her little wings, but cannot, because Emery holds her on a tight rein. Cooper switches his plans and takes his tyke with him, using the
money he gets by bilking wealthy, aged Standing on a phony stock deal for gold shares in a mine that doesn't exist. Cooper and Lombard are reunited and it seems that all will be well, as Cooper decides to tread the straight and narrow and go into real estate. Standing reappears and admits that he
knew Cooper was a fraud; he let Cooper bilk him because Standing himself is a jewel thief and now wants Cooper to aid him in his chicanery. Cooper decides against it. Granville, a rich widow, loves Temple and wants to adopt her. Cooper doesn't have a cent left in his wallet, so he steals
Granville's expensive necklace and tries to fence it through Standing. Before he can get to the urbane Standing, Temple finds the necklace in her teddy bear and worries that her daddy is a crook, but Lombard, wanting to shield the child, fraudulently confesses to the theft. Standing has the
necklace now; Cooper wants to return it to Granville but Standing won't hear of that. A gun battle follows, Cooper is wounded, and Standing is killed. Bleeding, Cooper allows Temple to take Granville as her adopted mother, then waves farewell to the child and the older woman at the train station.
Lombard takes Cooper to a hospital to have his wounds worked on, he slips into unconsciousness, and when he awakens, Lombard assures him that Temple will understand, at some later date, why he did what he did. It's not a comedy or a drama, just a picture in which Cooper, the quintessential Mr.
Good Guy, is hard to take as a rat. Lombard has little to do to stretch her abilities, and Temple steals the show. The script was cowritten by Irving Thalberg's sister, toiling in a lot other than MGM.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Some good acting from a stellar cast can't save this Damon Runyon-like story from imploding. Cooper is an international con man and swindler whose wife died many years ago and whose child, Temple, now lives with his brother-in-law, Emery, who would like to… (more)