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The Secret Six


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Editorial Reviews

Wallace Beery gives a powerhouse performance in this hard-boiled Pre-Code crime saga costarring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in her M-G-M debut. Beery stars as Louis Scorpio, a stockyard worker who takes over a bootlegging gang run by small-town hoodlum Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy in his screen debut). Muscling into the big city rackets, Scorpio is targeted by the Secret Six, a masked tribunal that works with reporter Carl Luckner (Gable) to dig up the dirt that could convict the mobster and send him straight to the chair. Borrowed from Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow was cast as one of Scorpio’s molls, sharing a few scenes with the up-and-coming Gable. Although his part was small at first, Gable’s role was beefed up during production, eventually tripling in size. Within a year, the pair would become two of M-G-M’s biggest stars, reteaming five more times before Harlow’s untimely death in 1937.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, John Mack Brown, Jean Harlow, Marjorie Rambeau
  • Directors: George Hill
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009RNK13C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,437 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
MGM during the pre-code era - {1930-1934} wasn't known for the Warner Brothers style of crime film but surprisingly it did make a number of crime and gangster movie's - stylish crime melodrama's such as `Guilty Hands" and "Night Court"{1932} and the Ultimate Prison Melodrama "The Big House"{1930}. MGM also made gangster/crime films "Beast of the City" {1932} and "The Secret Six" {1931} both depicting a U.S.A. in which criminal activity, political and judicial corruption of American institutions engulfed everything and showing how decent,ordinary Americans could be driven by these circumstances to self righteous suicidal madness.

"The Secret Six" depicts the meteoric career of a nobody stockyard, meat house butcher "Slaughterhouse Scorpio" {Wallace Beery} tracing his murderous rise to become an all powerful gangster/crime boss that will control Central City {aka Cicero/Chicago} including the mayor's office, police, courts and newspapers/press. The brain behind Scorpio is "Newton" {Lewis Stone} a shrewd lawyer, full of contempt for Scorpio and his thugs but hungry for power and money and is the driving force to organize and expand Scorpio's bootlegging, extortion and prostitution rackets. Two newspaper men "Hank" {Johnnie Mack Brown} and "Carl" {Clark Gable} are bought off and play up Scorpio in their newspapers as a hero and "great guy" and the gang quickly consolidates its power over the rackets and politics.

Johnnie Mack Brown is the movies nominal "hero" leading man but Clark Gable {billed 7th in the credits} "wipes the floor" with Brown in every scene they're in together and this movie would be a major stepping stone for Gable in becoming MGM's top male star within a year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Retired in Walnut Creek on April 6, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this file very enjoyable. I bought it because of Jean Harlow and Clark Gable specifically to see how they did in a very early movie. Both were excellent. I did not expect much from the movie when I bought it but was really surprised. Anyone who is a fan of Jean Harlow or Clark Gable whould enjoy this movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard G. Lewis on February 8, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jean Harlow is my favorite old time movie star. Sadly she passed away when she was only 26 years old. Therefor she only made a few films. I have tried to collect them all.
This film Jean goes up against Wallace Beery a frequent co-star of hers. Good gangster movie
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Format: DVD
I have a hard time believing that Frances Marion - one of my favorite screenwriters of the silent and early talkie era - wrote this, it has so many holes. It's almost like someone locked Frances Marion in a closet, wrote this script, and forged her signature to it. Let me just say only one paragraph at the end of the review somewhat spoils the film. I try to leave out details in the rest of it.

First off, the film is like two different movies. At the beginning you see "Slaughterhouse" Scorpio, so-named because he is working in a slaughterhouse, take up with the gang of his pal Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy). Scorpio has an extra "rod", actually has it on him, and likes the idea of extra money for what seems like the relatively easy work of bootlegging and whatever violence comes with it. Upstairs to gang headquarters trudges the gang.Then all of the questions start to appear.

There is an older man, Robert Newton (Lewis Stone), in a somewhat drunken stupor, who seems to be in charge and is suspicious of the new gang member. Newton insults the gang freely for "thinking", but for some reason he is not afraid of them just shooting him and they just take these insults. Why?

Is Robert Newton head of the gang? Is Johnny Franks? Why are Johnny and Scorpio fighting over a run-down used-up looking woman who is obviously trading on rapidly diminishing if not completely depleted assets (Marjorie Rambeau as Peaches) when the beautiful Anne (Jean Harlow) is working downstairs? Why would Newton or any of the gang think that trespassing on a bigger gang's territory, headed by John Miljan as the tux-wearing piano-playing Colimo, lead to anything but violence and little or no profit - which it does? And that's just the first half of the film.
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Format: DVD
This is the thinly-disguised story of events in Chicago as the Internal Revenue bureau was closing in on Al Capone. It was gotten onscreen thru legal hurdles by the Alamo Draft house in Austin in the late 1990s. Johnny Mack Brown plays a version of Jake Lingle, Chicago crime reporter gunned down the day before he was to meet with Treasury Agent Frank Wilson. Frances Marion, highest-paid screenwriter of the time, spent months in Chicago researching as Eliot Ness smashed Capone breweries with snow plows. This is also the only movie of record showing a real moonshine still--a huge assembly costing tens of thousands of gold dollars, surrounded by stacked bags of glucose corn sugar, source of 98% of all whiskey consumed in America at the time. Beery, Stone and Harlow were the thirties' equivalent of the Not Ready for Prime Time players on old SNL. Their movies showed how fanatical prohibitionism corrupted and destroyed the entire national economy, and helped lead to repeal. A great movie!--jhenryphillips
p.s. Did I mention Clark Gable with no moustache?
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