The Fall Guy (1930 film)
|The Fall Guy|
|Directed by||Leslie Pearce|
|Produced by||William LeBaron
William Sistrom (assoc.)
|Screenplay by||Tim Whelan|
|Based on||The play, The Fall Guy, a Comedy in Three Acts
by George Abbott and James Gleason
|Cinematography||Leo Tover |
|Edited by||Archie Marshek|
The Fall Guy is a 1930 American pre-Code crime drama film, directed by Leslie Pearce and written by Tim Whelan, based upon the Broadway hit The Fall Guy, a Comedy in Three Acts, written by George Abbott and James Gleason. It starred Jack Mulhall and Pat O'Malley, and its supporting cast included Mae Clarke, who would become famous the following year when James Cagney pushed a grapefruit into her face in the film, The Public Enemy.
When Johnny Quinlan loses his job in a drug store, he is afraid to tell his wife, Bertha, and therefore keeps up the pretense of leaving each morning for a non-existent job, as he begins the search for a new job. As the days pass and he is unable to find employment, their household, which includes his sister, Lottie, and Bertha's brother, Dan Walsh, goes through what little savings they have.
As he gets more desperate, he agrees to do small jobs for "Nifty" Herman, a small-time gangster. Nifty had loaned Johnny $15, as part of a plan to entice him to work for him. After Johnny gets insulted by a common laborer job offer from a neighbor, Nifty lies to him and says that he has a friend who will get him a managerial position at a liquor store. All Johnny has to do is hold onto a case of high-priced alcohol for a few days. Dubious, Johnny reluctantly agrees and takes the suitcase back to his apartment. However, when Bertha finds out who he got the suitcase from, she demands that he return it, threatening to leave him if he doesn't.
Taking the case back to Nifty, he finds the office locked, and so returns home. When he arrives, his sister's suitor, Charles Newton, is visiting. Newton is a government agent. Even though Johnny tries to hide the case, his efforts are futile, and Newton spies it and becomes suspicious, seeing a resemblance to a case he and his men have been attempting to track down. Opening it, he discovers it contains a cache of drugs. When he interrogates Johnny, he gets the whole story, and is about to arrest Johnny, when Nifty arrives to retrieve the suitcase. Johnny tricks Nifty into confessing, and then subdues him, when he is resisting the efforts of Newton and his deputies to arrest him. The film ends with Johnny being rewarded for the way he handled himself by becoming Newton's assistant.
- Jack Mulhall as Johnny Quinlan
- Mae Clarke as Bertha Quinlan
- Ned Sparks as Dan Walsh
- Wynne Gibson as Lottie Quinlan
- Pat O'Malley as Charles Newton
- Thomas E. Jackson as Frederick "Nifty" Herman
- Tom Kennedy as Detective Burke
- Alan Roscoe as Detective Keefe
(cast list as per AFI database)
From March through June 1925 the play The Fall Guy, a Comedy in Three Acts, was performed at the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre. The play starred Ernest Truex, and was written by playwright/producer George Abbott and the well-known character actor James Gleason. In February 1930, RKO purchased the rights to the play. By March, it was announced that Jack Mulhall would have the starring role in the film. At the same time RKO designated William Sistrom as the supervising producer. Less than two weeks later Mae Clarke was added to the cast, to star opposite Mulhall. In addition, at around the same time it was announced that Pat O'Malley had been signed to appear in the film. Wynne Gibson was added to the cast in mid-March, and at the same time it was announced that Francis McDonald was also being added to the cast, although he did not appear in the finished film. The picture's filming was scheduled to start the first week in April, and it was revealed that Wynne Gibson and Tom Jackson had joined the cast. In late March it became known that Leslie Pearce would be directing the film, and that Alan Roscoe had been added to the cast.
The New York Times film critic, Mordaunt Hall, gave the film a mostly favorable review, saying that the film was "a little crude in spots, it at least succeeds in holding the attention, the action being fairly good combination of comedy and drama." Variety called the picture "mildly entertaining", and contained "few laughs", although they did say that the film did pick up about midway through, and by the last two reels had become "exciting". They felt the cast was did not perform up to their capabilities, and particularly singled out the weakness of Mae Clarke's performance.
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