Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Victor McLagen
Director: Ray McCarey
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Death to squealers!
Steven Hellerstedt | 09/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason that tough corner of New York City, Hell's Kitchen, had a good run in the 1930s. THE DEVIL'S PARTY is one of many slum kids movies of that decade, one of the better ones of a genre that would camp out into Dead End Kids silliness within a decade.
The story comes from Borden Chase's novel "Hell's Kitchen Has a Pantry." The movie opens with a gang of five slum kids, four boys and a girl, casing and preparing to steal from a fruit company. They throw a diversionary smudge pot into the warehouse and accidentally start a fire. The leader, Marty Malone, is caught and, following the rules of the street, takes the rap and refuses to squeal on his cohorts. Malone is sent to reform school while the other kids apparently take the scare to heart and reform themselves.
Flash forward to adulthood and the kids have grown up into a nightclub singer, a priest, a nightclub owner who has a couple of toes in the "racket," and a brace of cops.
Not surprisingly Malone is the one who grew up a touch shady, although the group remain great good friends and reune annually. Things turn sour and into a movie when Malone has a couple of goons put the squeeze on a gambling playboy who's bouncing big checks on him and laughing about it. Squeeze turns into murder (against Malone's orders, I hasten to add) and a few too many clues are left to make it seem an accident. Two emergency squad policemen called to the scene just happen to be the O'Mara brothers, two-fifths of the old fruit nabbing slum kids' gang.
Gentle brute Victor McLaglen, who had two years earlier won a leading actor Academy Award in John Ford's 1936 THE ENFORCER, stars as the grown up Marty Malone. The rest of the cast is made up of talented and vaguely familiar bit actors. For instance, singer Beatrice Roberts is probably best known for her role as Azura, Queen of Mars, in the Flash Gordon serials. William Gargan, one of the two O'Mara brothers, was nominated for an Oscar in 1941 for his supporting role in THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WANTED. McLaglen had enough range to carry any b-movie they cared to throw at him, but the other actors in this are top of the line b-stars who didn't embarrass themselves when they appeared in more prestigious films.
After the delinquent gambler's murder things heat up considerably, old ties of friendship are frayed and stressed, and Malone eventually finds himself in the position of having to take another one to protect the gang. What happens is fairly predictable, but this film is fast paced and avoids so many cliches it's hard not to like it.
The print transfer on this discount dvd is fairly good, all things considered. The image is usually clear and sharp and the sound is acceptable. There are a few stretches where the film is badly scratched and stained, but fewer than some from this distributor.
A bit of trivia. Victor McLaglen didn't come into his own as an actor until he was over fifty. Prior to his acting career he was a boxer (check his more-than-once broken nose for verification) and my old copy of The Film Encyclopedia says that he once fought heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who he lost to in six rounds.