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Beast of the City

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Beast of the City + The Secret Six + Hold Your Man
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Editorial Reviews

A police captain leads the fight against a vicious gangland chief in this exciting drama starring Oscar and Golden Globe-winner Walter Huston ("Yankee Doodle Dandy"). Jean Harlow ("City Lights," "Dinner at Eight") and Wallace Ford ("They Were Expendable") co-star in this riveting look into the gangster life.

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Harlow, Wallace Ford Walter Huston
  • Directors: Charles Brabin
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2009
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002E7GCMC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,533 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beast of the City" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on April 8, 2010
Format: DVD
"Beast of the City" is a pro-police reaction to the gangster films of the 30s. Crime dramas, especially gangster films were the big hits of the early 30s - Wallace Beery in "The Big House" (1930), Edward G Robinson's "Little Caesar" (1930), Peter Lorre's "M" (1931), Jimmy Cagney's "Public Enemy" (1931), Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in "The Secret Six" (1931) and Paul Muni's "Scarface" (1932). Most of these films glorified the gangster and showed the authorities in a poor light (a notable exception was Lewis Stone's performance in "The Big House"). With the advent of the Hayes code and changes in popular culture, producers felt a need to be more pro law enforcement.

The film "Beast of the City" has a big name cast, starring Walter Huston, Jean Harlow, Wallace Ford, and Jean Hersholt. Also featured are J. Carrol Naish, Tully Marshall, and, if you look closely, Mickey Rooney plays Huston's son.

Walter Huston plays a crusading police captain. At this point in his career, Huston was churning out films in assembly-line precision. He appeared in 4 films in 1931, 8 in 1932 (including "Beast"), and 5 in 1933. His performances are relatively undistinguished, even if some of the films (e.g., "Gabriel Over the White House") were hits. Huston got better as he got older, and he was nominated for an Oscar in 1937 ("Dodsworth"), 1942 ("Devil and Daniel Webster") and 1943 ("Yankee Doodle Dandy") and won in 1949 for "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". He died in 1950. His performance in "Beast" is enthusiastic (as usual) but ordinary.

Jean Hersholt plays the Italian gangster.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Malo Bo on May 13, 2012
Format: DVD
Before Jimmy Cagney starred in G-Men, few films had really touched on the fight against organized crime, and yet, still glorified that battle. That is not true with 1932's "The Beast of the City." In this Charles J. Brabin film, a vigilant police chief takes the fight against organized crime up a notch, and the violence holds true with the best films of Pre-Code Hollywood.

This is not a boring movie that has a limited appeal. The violence seethes like the outburst in the final shootout, and the plot and general story, if slightly predictable, are very fitting for the characters the script has developed. The cast is great. Walter Huston stars with Jean Harlow. Wallace Ford and Jean Hersholt co-star. Huston, Harlow and Ford are good, but Hersholt is no Paul Muni in this role. Most people either get this film because they are interested in the early 1930's gangster films or Jean Harlow movies. I think that this is one of the best Pre-Code Hollywood movies we have available today, and as a old horror film enthusiast, that means a lot. A film like "The Beast of the City" and it's pre-Film noir qualities, is a cousin to both the gangster flick and film noir, and

Yes, this is a very old film. However, if you can dig Hawks and Hughes' Scarface or classic Edward G. Robinson roles, you will fit right in with this picture.

There are two bad things about the picture
1) it makes viewers wish there had been more Pre-Code movies from the golden era - as usual
2) the WB Archive Collection release is expensive and offers no bonus features, however the print is beautiful - as usual
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Doherty on May 27, 2013
Format: DVD
This is, as other reviewers have pointed out, one of the few gangster pictures of the early '30's to focus on law enforcement rather than the gangsters. Although sympathetic law enforcement figures were often supporting characters in such films (e.g. Thomas Jackson as Sgt. Flaherty in LITTLE CAESAR, C. Henry Gordon as Sgt. Guarino in SCARFACE, Clark Gable as reporter-turned-undercover-DA's-investigator Carl Luckner in THE SECRET SIX, or an uncredited Robert Homans as a nondescript beat cop in THE PUBLIC ENEMY), they were not the focus of the films; the charismatic mobsters were.

Novelist W.R. Burnett, who wrote the novel on which LITTLE CAESAR was based, and who adapted Armitage Trail's novel SCARFACE into the Paul Muni film, was, probably more than anyone else, responsible for the popularity of the gangster figure in films. He was one of the co-writers of the screenplay for BEAST OF THE CITY, and is also credited for the original story.

But, it wasn't really an original screen story. Burnett's second published novel, SAINT JOHNSON (1930), was the first fictionalization of the face-off between the forces of the law, represented by the Earp brothers, and the forces of criminality, represented by the Clanton gang, in Tombstone, AZ. The reality was at least a little more nuanced, but in general, the Earps really were the good guys, to the degree anyone was, and the Clantons really the bad guys. Certainly, though presenting the characters warts and all, that's the depiction Burnett gave in his novel, and his fictionalized Earp figure, Wayt Johnson, is, though deeply flawed, principled and heroic.
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