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Alibi (1929)

Chester Morris and Harry Stubbs , Roland West  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Chester Morris and Harry Stubbs
  • Directors: Roland West
  • Format: NTSC, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino
  • DVD Release Date: September 4, 2007
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,260 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Chester Morris stars as Chick Williams, a Prohibition gangster who rejoins his mob soon after being released from prison. When a policeman is murdered during a robbery, Williams falls under suspicion and the detective squad employs its most sophisticated and barbaric techniques to pin the crime on him.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fine early gangster movie that shows 'em how it's done... February 15, 2008
Alibi is one of the few early talkies that truly make the grade. There's a good plot that moves along nicely, good choreography and cinematography (for its time) and the convincing acting held my attention every step of the way. This film is an excellent early talkie gangster movie.

The action begins when Chick Williams (Chester Morris) gets released from prison--only to get back again with the members of his mob who rob and run a swanky speakeasy. Soon Chick is dating Joan Manning, (Eleanore Griffith), the daughter of a tough as nails police detective who hates the idea of Chick dating his daughter. When detective Pete Manning (Purnell Pratt) discovers that Chick and Joan have been married Pete tries to separate them to no avail. Joan truly believes that Chick has turned over a new leaf.

One night Joan and Chick go to the theater--and Chick excuses himself during the ten minute intermission while Joan waits back in the theater. Almost at that same time a botched robbery leaves a cop dead--and there are questions to be answered. Who killed that cop? Was Chick involved or was he merely smoking outside the theater during intermission? How can Chick prove he is innocent?

Look for excellent performances from Chester Morris as Chick Williams; he impressed me greatly with his fine acting, especially near the end of the picture. Regis Toomey turns in an equally stunning performance as Danny McGann, a detective who pretends to be a drunk at the speakeasy in order to spy on the mobsters. Mae Busch is also quite good as Daisy Thomas, the girlfriend of the man who runs the speakeasy nightclub.

Unfortunately, other reviewers are right when they state that there's an incredible amount of noise that goes along with the soundtrack.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing early talkie. March 20, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
The number of early sound films that can hold interest beyond historical curiosity are few; Roland West is able to do more in the first reel of "Alibi" than even Hitchcock could accomplish in "Blackmail." Menzies' sets give an incredible sense of solitude and menace, and the gradual twists in the plot would not be duplicated until the 1940's. (As a footnote, one of the songs performed in the gangster's speakeasy, "I've Never Seen a Smile Like Yours," served as the inspirational background for experimental animator Oskar Fischinger's film study #5 the following year.) It's truly a shame that West made only one more film, "Corsair" in 1931.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD EARLY GANGSTER FILM October 22, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Roland West's "Alibi" is a good example of what gangster films were like before Warner Brothers delivered its 1-2 punch of "Little Caesar" and "The Public Enemy." Yes, it's a bit theatrical, the action is patchy and the characters are less than role models of "gritty realism." But that doesn't mean that "Alibi" is a failure. On the contray, it's of interest precisely because it IS so different from what came a few years later and established a template for other gangster films.
The plot and dialogue give initmations of what the "hard-boiled" style would become without quite being there yet.
"Alibi" is worth a look for casual viewers and is a must-have for serious students of the genre. Now, if Paramount would only get around to releasing "City Streets" and "Underworld"....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's no excuse for bad behavior December 31, 2008
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
In director Roland West's early talkie ALIBI, a recently paroled mobster named Chick Williams (Morris) is suspected of murdering a cop despite the excuse that he was at a club with the daughter of the investigating sergeant when the crime occurred. The police plant a spy (Toomey) in the Williams gang who tries to get evidence against him, but this man is also killed. His extended death scene is full of histrionics and odd dialogue.

A camera mounted on the front bumper of a car privides some interesting footage, and a rooftop pursuit is also quite memorable. Considered innovative in its day, "Alibi" received three Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Art Direction and Actor (Morris).

Roland West is reputed to have given Chester Morris a deathbed confession that he murdered actress/club owner Thelma Todd.
Mae Busch was Ollie's wife in Laurel & Hardy's talkie debut, UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE (1929).
This was character actor Regis Toomey's first film.
Based on the 1927 Broadway drama, "Nightstick," a show that had four authors.

KINO's edition of ALIBI is available on DVD.

In THE BIG HOUSE (1930), Chester Morris again plays a notorious thug, along with co-star Wallace Beery. (VHS) -- (DVD)

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

Alibi (1929) - Chester Morris/Harry Stubbs/Mae Busch/Eleanore Griffith/Regis Toomey/Purnell Pratt/Irma Harrison/Diana Beaumont
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the early sound films February 13, 2008
Hitchcock's "Blackmail" and Lubitsch's "The Love Parade", are probably the very best of the early sound films made in 1929, but this one is close behind. I'm rating this film 5/5 when ranked with other early sound entries from 1929 -1934. Although the dialogue still has some of that halting quality that is common in early talkies, it doesn't cause the film to plod along. Instead, it moves along at a good pace and keeps you engaged. The actors have a pretty natural quality in their performance, Chester Morris in particular. He's the one actor you're likely to recognize, since he had a pretty good career in the 30's and 40's playing romantic leads first and then in a crime drama series later on.

The film starts out with Chick Williams (Chester Morris) being released from prison, supposedly after being framed by the police. He's dating the daughter of a hard-boiled detective, and from the way the detective and his subordinates handle things - not to mention his rough treatment of his daughter - at first you might believe Chick is a wronged guy. Shortly after Chick's release there is a robbery that goes bad in which a police officer is killed. Chick is suspect number one, except he has an alibi - the hard-boiled detective's daughter, and roughly a hundred other people who saw him at the theatre at the time of the robbery.

There are lots of little interesting tricks and turns in this movie, not to mention the interesting use of sound and the mounting of the camera on the front of the car so that as the police and the criminals speed around in the dark, you see what they see. Look at any other typically claustrophobic 1929 film, and you'll appreciate this even more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
The name Roland West is virtually forgotten today, but soon after motion pictures began adapting to sound, West directed a few innovative works that are unlike conventional early... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Casey62
4.0 out of 5 stars ART DECO GANGSTERS!!!!!
Overall, I was very pleased to see this film come to DVD. Kino rightfully gave an explanation as to the lesser quality of the soundtrack, which I found to be generally satisfying... Read more
Published 23 months ago by larryj1
2.0 out of 5 stars Major Audio Problems
Having just recently become aware of this film, I really wanted to see it.

Kino's release is horribly disappointing, especially considering the company's... Read more
Published on June 17, 2012 by G. Ratcheson
3.0 out of 5 stars Alibi
For some inexplicable reason, Amazon has removed the rate-movie feature from the main product page. One must now write a review in order to rate a movie and generate... Read more
Published on March 24, 2011 by Charles D. Fulton
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Extremely Dated
Loosely based on the popular 1920s Broadway play NIGHTSTICK, the 1929 ALIBI was highly acclaimed in its day, with critics rushing to describe it as "fresh," "progressive,"... Read more
Published on January 7, 2011 by Gary F. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars There's no excuse for bad behavior
In director Roland West's early talkie ALIBI, a recently paroled mobster named Chick Williams (Morris) is suspected of murdering a cop despite the excuse that he was at a club with... Read more
Published on September 17, 2010 by Annie Van Auken
5.0 out of 5 stars Progressive for it's time
Considering the many stagey and stilted early sound features, this one has alot of interesting camera angles, shot for realism, and is perhaps noteworthy as a film in anticipation... Read more
Published on August 1, 2008 by Phil S.
4.0 out of 5 stars good fun
This is an early talkie so you know what to expect.The sound quality is not great and the acting is awkward and stilted but there are some suspenceful and well edited sequences. Read more
Published on December 14, 2007 by Lisa C. Mckenna
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