Larceny, Inc (1942)

Larceny, Inc (1942) is a super-fun madcap comedy crime caper starring Edward G. Robinson, Broderick Crawford, Jane Wyman and Jack Carson, among several other golden age heroes of the screen.

Not your regular film noir fare, it's still important to patrol the edge of the style and find valuable curiosities such as this, a comedy to be sure, and a bold stab at comedy and crime collided. It's a lot of fun.

That said Larceny, Inc. is indeed a a swell 1942 flick, hitting the big screen on May 2, 1942, care of Warner Bros. Picture this. 

It's a mix-up of comedy and gangster shenanigans, cooked up by director Lloyd Bacon. Starring heavyweights like Edward G. Robinson, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, and Jack Carson, and spiced up with Anthony Quinn and Edward Brophy.

Edward G. Robinson and Anthony Quinn in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Now, check the jive. The plot kicks off with J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell, a smooth-talking con ready to ditch the crooked life. It's a great name for a typically fast and smart talking G. Robinson character, who blethers his way out of prison, and into one of the prison governor's suits, and then into business and from business to crime and back to business once again, all by dint of his becoming a local hero among the traders.

It's a great name too, Pressure. The name "Pressure" rolls off the tongue like a smoke-filled whisper in a dimly lit alley. It's the kind of moniker that slithers through the city's underbelly, leaving a trail of tension and trepidation in its wake. Picture this: a rain-soaked street, neon lights flickering in the distance, and the rhythmic tap of footsteps echoing against the cold pavement.

Broderick Crawford in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Pressure ain't the kind of handle you choose on a whim. No, it's earned in the crucible of the concrete jungle, where every move is a calculated step and every word is laden with latent threat. It's the alias of a shadow, a silhouette that haunts the outskirts of legality with a stoic demeanor and a poker-faced resolve.

Street construction in Larceny, Inc (1942)

The name itself is a paradox — a force that's silent yet suffocating, like the anticipation before a storm. You hear it whispered in hushed conversations between crooked cops and shady informants. "Pressure's making a move," they say, and suddenly the air thickens, the atmosphere charged with an electric undercurrent.

Picture the face of Pressure, chiselled jaw, eyes that have seen too much, and a cigarette dangling from lips that utter words as sharp as a switchblade. He navigates the murky waters of crime with the precision of a predator, leaving no room for error. Pressure doesn't crack under the weight of the world; he thrives in it.

In the city's criminal echelons, the name "Pressure" is synonymous with a force that squeezes, a presence that tightens its grip on those who dare cross its path. It's the embodiment of a relentless pursuit, a relentless force that crushes opposition with a calculated and unyielding determination.

So, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the tracks and hear that name whispered in the shadows, know this: Pressure is not just a name; it's a promise of impending darkness, a harbinger of a storm about to break loose in the unforgiving landscape of noir.

Fresh outta Sing Sing, he turns down Leo Dexter's bank-robbing gig. Pressure's got dreams, see? He's eyeing a dog racing track in Florida, wanting to go straight with his adopted daughter Denny Costello. Only hitch – he's short on dough.

Bank turns him down flat, so Pressure cooks up a plan to rob the joint. But hold the phone! Next door's a luggage shop. What's the wise move? Buy it, of course, from Homer Bigelow. He's got Jug and pal Weepy Davis on basement duty, digging a tunnel faster than you can say "hot potatoes."

Enter Jeff Randolph, a slick talker who sells Weepy a ton of luggage. Trouble brews when Jeff falls head over heels for Denny. When she sniffs out Pressure's scheme, she puts Jeff on the hustle. The joint's flooded with customers, putting the kibosh on the tunnel-digging racket. Legit sales, baby!

Business booms, and the bank wants to buy their spot. Pressure's ready to cash in, but Leo's got other ideas. Breaking out of the joint, he wants a piece of the action. Pressure's ditched the heist game, but Leo's a stubborn mug.

Leo aims to blow the vault on Christmas Eve. Twist in the tale – Homer's back, pining for his shop. He cops a knock-out but rings the burglar alarm. Chaos ensues, and Pressure has to play hero. Leo's gun-happy, but Pressure throws down, knocking Leo cold. The fuzz busts in, and the joint's on fire. Pressure saves the day, dragging Homer out like a champ.

So yes feast your peepers on this cinematic delight — a veritable screwballpark of fun for the discerning classic movie aficionado, especially the gentlemen in the audience! Picture this: a cast chock-full of silver screen stalwarts from the heyday of the studio system, with none other than Harry Davenport gracing the screen in a delightful supporting role, and hold onto your hats, because Jackie Gleason makes a dandy little cameo in his early days!

Now, settle in for a rollicking good time with "Larceny, Inc.," a rib-tickling romp through the world of comedy that'll have you in stitches from start to finish! And let me tell ya, this flick's got more running gags than a circus parade, each one landing with the precision of a seasoned tightrope walker. 

Edward G. Robinson in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Watch as Pressure Maxwell, played with impeccable charm by the ever-talented Edward G. Robinson, finds himself flustered when his best-laid plans hit a snag, all while being buttered up with compliments left, right, and centre. And who could forget the hapless Crawford, played to perfection by the comedic genius that is Broderick Crawford, begrudgingly roped into all sorts of mischief despite his protests?

But wait, there's more! Wyman, portrayed by the lovely Jane Wyman, is on a mission to turn Robinson into a respectable businessman, despite his shady past—a recipe for hilarity if ever there was one! And let me tell you, folks, there's a moment in this picture that'll have you busting a gut with laughter. Picture this: a promotion involving a ten-dollar bill hidden in one of the suitcases in the store. Can you guess who stumbles upon it? None other than Crawford himself, much to the bewilderment of his fellow shoppers! 

Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the one teensy-weensy hiccup in this otherwise flawless flick—the plot twist involving none other than Anthony Quinn. You see, according to the Production Code, criminal behavior must be punished, so our hero Robinson must find himself in a bit of a pickle. But fear not, dear audience, for our intrepid protagonist rises to the occasion, proving himself a hero in the face of adversity, and leaving us with a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.
And what's a madcap comedy without a dash of romance, eh? Pretty Wyman finds herself swept off her feet by the charming Jack Carson, while Robinson navigates the amorous advances of the forward widow Barbara Jo Allen. But hold onto your hats, folks, because the most unlikely romance of them all blossoms between the portly Edward Brophy and the winsome local manicurist Jean Ames — truly a sight to behold.
Jackie Gleason in Larceny, Inc (1942)

So there you have it, for all its trouble, Larceny, Inc. in all its punctuated and riotous glory is something of a vision of nostalgia as it aspires to a cinematic vibe more redolent of 1932 than 1942 — a rollicking tale of hardworking merchants, dastardly schemes, and the undeniable power of love. It may not be the most original theme in the book, but by golly, it's a well-executed romp that'll leave you grinning from ear to ear!

Not noir so much as non-noir cinematic mirth and mayhem — a rollicking romp through the annals of celluloid history, with the only noirish moments coming in the dark perfection perhaps of Anthony Quinn, a yarn brimming with wit sharper than a blade forged in the fires of comedic genius, a trio of lovable scoundrels, and a plot that zips along faster than a greased lightning bolt on a moonlit night.

At the heart of our tale is the irrepressible Edward G. Robinson, a veritable dynamo of charisma and charm, portraying an ex-convict with a heart of gold that shines brighter than a star in the night sky. And by his side stand two faithful companions, played with aplomb by Broderick Crawford and Edward Brophy—loyal to a fault, though perhaps not the brightest bulbs in the marquee.

But hold onto your hats, dear audience, for within the confines of this compact running time, director Lloyd Bacon weaves a tapestry of romance and intrigue. A blossoming love affair between the winsome adopted daughter Denny and the dashing luggage merchant Jeff adds a touch of sweetness to the proceedings, while sly commentary on the machinations of street politics and the art of the holiday season sales tactics infuses the narrative with a delightful sense of wit and whimsy.

Yet amidst the laughter and lightheartedness, there lurks a shadow—a gnarled presence in the form of Anthony Quinn, a goon with a perpetual chip on his shoulder, injecting a dose of seriousness into our merry escapade. But fear not, dear viewers, for even in the face of danger, our intrepid trio remains undaunted, their indomitable spirit shining through like a beacon of hope in the darkest of nights.

Not noir no but a chance to immerse yourselves in the riotous revelry. With its razor-sharp wit, endearing characters, and breakneck pace, it's a cinematic delight that'll leave you grinning from ear to ear long after the credits have rolled. And they rolled in 1942.

Jane Wyman in Larceny, Inc (1942)
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: [picking up sample] Crocodile?
Homer Bigelow: No, alligator.
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: [tossing away sample] Oh, domestic.

Mademoiselle Gloria: Well I wish you'd drop in and look over my lingerie sometime.
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: Well, you drop in sometime and look over my trunks.
City street with Santa in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Jug Martin: Weepy, I don't like the idea of going into a bank through the front door.

Jug Martin: Pressure?
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: Yeah?
Jug Martin: What have we got to lose? If we go in with Leo and get caught, we're back in time for the Elmira game. Hunh?
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: Ha, you're flannel-brained.
Jug Martin: All right, I still think he's got somethin' hot.
J. Chalmers 'Pressure' Maxwell: Yeah, he's got somethin' hot all right! Yeah, a comfortable chair upholstered with wire!
Grant Mitchell in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Denny says "yes" to Jeff's ring, and Pressure's plotting a new shop, starting a whole chain. Ain't that a swell tale, folks?

Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks is like a déjà vu trip down Larceny, Inc. boulevard. Allen's been tight-lipped about it. Did he snag inspiration or just stumbled into it? The tunnelling to robbery trope has been a favourite since the immortal hours of the Red Headed League (1891).

Daft Santa Broderick Crawford in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Now, the main squeeze, Robinson, slid into the shoes of Pressure Maxwell to shake off his tough guy rap from all those gangster and cop gigs at Warner Bros. Real smooth move, right?

This flick's got a whole Warner Bros. posse – it's like a family reunion! And hold onto your fedora, Jackie Gleason makes a sly entrance as a soda jerk. That's right, the Great One himself mixing shakes and stirring trouble. Keep your peepers peeled for the family resemblance.

Daft Santa Edward G. Robinson in Larceny, Inc (1942)

Strap in tight, folks! This flick's a rollercoaster of hysterics and mayhem. Imagine this: Edward G. Robinson, the maestro of irritation, begrudgingly wraps up a suitcase (a steal at $9.75!) for a pesky customer. 

Now, that's a moment that'll go down in the history of film as a laugh riot. The tempo of this picture is relentless, like a Bugs Bunny cartoon on overdrive. It's a rare comedy gem boasting a chuckle practically every minute.

This film knows the art of the uproarious — picture a single door swinging open and shut, a comedic ballet of eccentric characters parading through, each with impeccable timing. 

Plus, it's got a youthful, menacing Anthony Quinn for that extra edge, and an early appearance by Jackie Gleason, swiping a scene or two. Almost as delightful as the crowned monarch of screwball comedies, Bringing Up Baby. Get ready for a joyride!

Edward G. Robinson unleashes mayhem in this flawlessly crafted and devilishly charming Gangster-Comedy. While British Cinema was drowning in crime comedies through the gritty 40s and shadowed 50s, Hollywood was tossing dice across genres. Yet, from the smoke, emerged Lloyd Bacon's Larceny Inc in the early 40s – a gritty tale that stood tall amidst the genre's murky waters.

In '41, 'Ball Of Fire' flirted with crime comedy, a mere shadow in the twilight of Rom-com. Larceny Inc, however, strides in, a lone silhouette in the early 40s, casting a dark spell on the genre's landscape.

Nodding to the crime comedies of the 50s, Larceny Inc emerges as a gritty testament to genre exploration without shedding its trench-coated origins. Crime genres often tread the mean streets, catering to a niche audience. But when you throw in the wild card of comedy, the concoction becomes a drink for the masses. Larceny Inc orchestrates its elements in the dimly lit alleys, delivering a gratifying punch.

The story trails three ex-cons who buy into a luggage shop, gunning for the bank vault next door. The gritty reality hits when the shop thrives despite their nefarious designs. Contemplating a cleaner slate, the past shadows resurface, threatening to rain on the parade. Larceny Inc walks the tightrope between humor and shadowy intrigue, crafting a tale with grit, predictable goodwill, and a twist around every dark corner. 

The one-liners are a rain of lead, inducing laughter that echoes through the dimly lit streets. The spotlight is on the characters, especially Edward Robinson, playing his role with a shadowy brilliance. The climax, a murky alley where shadows linger, may seem flat, but by then, the audience is soaked in the dark charm. 

In the shadows, Larceny Inc emerges as a gritty comedy, donned in commendable values, whispering a recommendation through the smoky haze.

Larceny, Inc. (1942)

Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Genres - Comedy, Crime  |   Release Date - Apr 24, 1942 (USA), Apr 24, 1942 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 95 min | Larceny, Inc. (1942) on Wikipedia

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