BULLETS OR BALLOTS

(1936)
With Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane, Humphrey Bogart, Frank McKugh
Directed by William Keighley
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     A typically enjoyable, if somewhat talky, Warner Brothers crime drama, BULLETS OR BALLOTS has Eddie G. Robinson on the right side of the law, as a a police detective who joins a crime syndicate and passes on tips to the cops to bring it down.  Supported by the usual grab bag cast of Warner luminaries, Robinson gives his trademark good performance, highlighted by his desperate final moments when he races against time to lead the police to the real leaders behind the city's crime problems.  

     Filmed under the newly established Hays Code, which made it difficult to make pure gangster pictures any more, BULLETS OR BALLOTS resembles other Warners films like G-MEN in that it cleverly manages to depict the workings of the underworld by casting one of their big "gangster" stars as a  good guy and pitting them against the mob, represented here by Barton MacLane and Humphrey Bogart.  MacLane is more impressive, while Bogey, always fun to watch, is simply biding his time in another one-dimensional fourth-billed part.  If you don't know what Bogey's fate is going to be comes the final reel, you haven't watched a lot of mid-thirties Warner gangster films.

     A little more action and a little less talk would have brought this at least another half a star.  But it's a 1930's Warners flick with Eddie G, Bogey and the rest... what more do you want for your nickel? 3 - JB

Edward G. Robinson     The Stuff You Gotta Watch