Slight Case of Murder, A [1938]

Anyone with a fondness for the classic Warner Bros. gangster pictures--and those classic character actors who seemed to show up in every movie the studio made--should relish this cheerful late-'30s takeoff on the genre. Edward G. Robinson exuberantly sends up his own "Little Caesar" image, playing a beer baron named Remy Marco who made a dishonest fortune during Prohibition and craves respectability as a legitimate businessman once beer becomes legal again. Problem is, he's no longer the sole source of suds, and as nobody has ever had the heart to tell him, his product tastes like varnish. What's more, just as the bank is about to foreclose on his brewery, he finds that his summer vacation home upstate is inconveniently full of fresh gangland corpses.... Based on a play by Howard Lindsay and "guys and dolls" chronicler Damon Runyon, and helmed by one of Warners' zippiest directors, Lloyd Bacon, A Slight Case of Murder features a trio of delicious lugs--Allen Jenkins, Edward Brophy, and Harold Huber--as Marco's house staff and the hilarious Ruth Donnelly as his blowsy wife, with an affected upper-crust accent that keeps slipping. Add a supporting cast of characters with monikers like Innocence, No-Nose Cohen, Douglas Fairbanks Rosenbloom, and Sad Sam the Bookie, and you should be one happy citizen. --Richard T. Jameson

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