Mr. Versatile!!!
4 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe the reason Chester Morris didn't stand out like Clark Gable was that he was just so good and versatile he fitted into any role he was given whether it be hero ("The Big House") or villain ("Alibi"). He was the cinema's first anti hero - definitely something new to audiences of the early 30s but the charm he gave to amoral Chick Williams in "Alibi" showed female audiences at the time why the heroine was ready to walk through fire for him. In "King for a Night" he was reunited with his co star from "Playing Around" - cute Alice White. Alas Alice's career had done a turn around - she was not a big star anymore but was probably having more fun in roles she was born to play - sassy, wisecracking blondes always on the lookout for a good time!!

Chester Morris really made this role his own, a quite abrasive guy at first, Morris's warmth made you see past his brashness. Street scrapper Bud (Morris) is approached by two men (one of them George E. Stone) to turn professional boxer but he has promised his minister father (Grant Mitchell excelled at playing understanding fathers) he would quit for good. He tries his hand at a conventional job but his hot temper gets him fired (Clarence Wilson plays the disgruntled boss) and a chance meeting with a champion fighter sees him forgetting his promise to his dad and going to New York to seek fame and fortune in the ring. His abrasiveness doesn't do him any favours, he loses his manager and is back behind a soda fountain once more but he does meet cute chorine Evelyn (Alice White).

With Helen Twelvetrees billed 2nd in the cast everyone coming to the cinema knew what to expect - a high class sudsy weeper with noble Helen, lips quivering and eyes always ready to fill with tears. This movie did deliver but it was not Helen who gained your sympathy. Helen plays Bud's sister Lillian, both of them share a close bond as they are the black sheep of the family and when Lillian comes to New York for some excitement things start picking up for Bud. She starts a hot and heavy romance with Bud's new manager Walter (John Miljan) hoping to help Bud's career but when Lillian's old flame from home (Frank Albertson) comes to town, Walter feels Lillian has been playing him for a chump and threatens to expose her to Bud.

The last third of the film turns grim as Lillian kills Walter and decent and honorable Bud takes the blame. There was a heart wrenching end scene between Bud and his father, who has left his sick bed to visit. Bud's comments of "Isn't my dad a great guy" will have you reaching for tissues. Maybe because it was pre-code there was no happy ending or an attempt to make things turn out happily ever after.

It is really interesting that the two reviews here have given widely different ratings. I have given the movie 10 out of 10 - not because I'm over the top but because I really couldn't fault it.

Highly Recommended.
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