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Alibi

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Sep 04, 2007)
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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.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Chester Morris and Harry Stubbs
  • Directors: Roland West
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000SIWHBY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,404 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew G. Sherwin HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2008
Format: DVD
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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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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By A Customer on March 20, 1999
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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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).

FOOTNOTES:
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.

ALSO RECOMMENDED:
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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Format: DVD
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 talkies. Combining creative use of moving camera, sound effects, miniatures, and abstract production design, West's films pushed the envelope in freeing a craft that had temporarily become stagnated due to the new, constricting demands of sound.

In 1929, West directed ALIBI, a film he co-wrote with C. Gardner Sullivan, which was based on the play "Nightstick" by John Griffith Wray. The story is about a gangster just released from prison, who becomes the prime suspect when a cop is murdered during a heist. Chester Morris is excellent in his first starring role as the smooth gangster, Chick Williams. I always enjoy watching Morris' interesting way of portraying a character, and this is one of his strongest. Particularly impressive is his disturbing transformation from a self-assured hood to a whimpering rat at the end. When he's finally cornered by the cops, Morris collapses to his knees, begging for mercy in one of the most humiliating depictions of a criminal's comeuppance ever put on film. Character actor Regis Toomey gives an incredible performance as a faking-it-drunk undercover cop whom Morris rubs out. Toomey's drunk act is so bad it's good, and his excrutiatingly long death scene has to be seen to be believed. Mae Busch, a favorite foil for Laurel and Hardy, is good as a tough-talking moll - "Don't you call me dumb, you big bum!"

ALIBI's production designer was William Cameron Menzies, who gave the film an expressionist look with art-deco sets and silhouetted streets bathed in noirish lighting effects by cinematographer Ray June.
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