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Big Town Czar (1939)

Passed | | Mystery | 11 May 1939 (USA)
When gangster Phil Daley gets rid of his chief Paul Burgess he has everything that money can buy, except the respect of his parents and his sweetheart Susan Warren. His younger brother ... See full summary »


Arthur Lubin


Edmund L. Hartmann, Ed Sullivan (story "Czar of Broadway")




Complete credited cast:
Barton MacLane ... Phil Daley
Tom Brown ... Danny Daley
Eve Arden ... Susan Warren
Jack La Rue ... Mike Luger
Frank Jenks ... Sid Travers
Walter Woolf King ... Paul Burgess
Oscar O'Shea ... Pa Daley
Esther Dale ... Ma Daley
Horace McMahon ... Punchy
Ed Sullivan ... Narrator / Newspaper Columnist


When gangster Phil Daley gets rid of his chief Paul Burgess he has everything that money can buy, except the respect of his parents and his sweetheart Susan Warren. His younger brother Danny quits college and forces Phil to make him part of the gang. The overly-ambitious Danny fixes a prize-fight on which rival gang-leader Mike Luger loses heavily and, thinking that Phil has double-crossed him, sends gunmen out to kill Phil. They kill Danny instead and the frightened Phil flees to a country hideout. His chief lieutenant, Sid Travis, sets a trap for Phil when he returns. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


DICTATOR... Of The Sinister Empire Behind The Big City's Bright Lights! See more »




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fighting the Racketeers See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

The Rise And Fall Of A Big Shot
2 April 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Big Town Czar is a B picture gangster film with the sole distinction of having been written by Ed Sullivan who at that time was not the host of America's most successful television variety show. Instead he was a newspaper gossip columnist, one of the rivals to the number one New York columnist Walter Winchell.

Barton MacLane plays the lead and we first see him pulling a palace coup against racketeer Walter Woolf King with sidekick Frank Jenks. He's on top of the world now, but he's got a kid brother in Tom Brown who wants to leave college and follow him into the rackets. That's a prospect that will break his parents, Oscar O'Shea and Esther Dale's hearts. It's not sitting well with his girlfriend Eve Arden either.

I'm guessing the original story that Sullivan wrote is better than how it was translated to the screen. The characters seem poorly motivated, a lot of their actions make no sense. Brown comes off as such a punk, I can't believe that MacLane just didn't slap some sense into him.

Ed Sullivan wrote himself and played himself in the film. He also narrates portions and while it's a good ten years earlier than I remember him from television in the Fifties, he looks about the same.

The cast from Barton MacLane, Eve Arden on down just go through their paces and collect a check. Sullivan looks the most animated of the lot and that's saying something if you remember him from television.

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