Larceny Inc. (1942)
A comedy directed by Lloyd Bacon (42nd Street) that was written by Everett Freeman and Edwin Gilbert from a play by Laura and S.J. Perelman. There are lots of familiar stock players in this one but the main characters are Edward G. Robinson Broderick Crawford (playing an even dumber character than usual) and Edward Brophy (larger than his normal sidekick roles?). Though Jane Wyman received second billing Jack Carson third and Anthony Quinn fourth their roles are small in comparison. Harry Davenport is appropriated billed at sixth though; John Qualen Grant Mitchell George Meeker and even Jackie Gleason are in this one.
The film starts with a prison baseball game to establish the relationship between Robinson the leader and Crawford his flunkie. The two are about to released from prison after serving their time; Brophy is the part of the gang who has been tending to things while they were on the inside. Robinson is determined to go legitimate and promises Wyman who’s like a daughter to him that he will. However when the bank turns him down for the loan he needs to open a dog track he decides that he’ll have to get his initial stake his old way.
He notices that there’s a luggage business next door to the bank whose basement may provide access to it. He “buys” the business from Davenport and soon has Crawford digging in the basement. Brophy acquires the needed supplies and otherwise assists Robinson with keeping customers out of the store! However the local businessmen befriend Robinson and ask him to help them by getting the city to finish the subway construction which has the street torn up in front of their businesses. Though Robinson likes the fact that there is limited pedestrian traffic into his store he accidentally helps them becoming their hero.
Wyman who’s being romantically pursued by luggage manufacturing rep (Carson) gets wise to Robinson’s plans. She then enlists Carson’s unknowing help to keep customers coming through the store to delay or prevent the crime. Quinn “The Man” inside the prison gets wind of the job Robinson & Co. are working and breaks out in order to muscle in on the deal. By this time Robinson has become a respected businessman on his street with the bank wanting to buy his business for 15 times what he paid for it. He has just convinced his “partners in (the would be) crime” to go straight and accept the bank’s offer when Quinn shows up. The ending of this film is the only real downer … it’s worse than silly.