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One of the classics you can do without. Seriously, movies have come along way thank god. The script, the acting, the "special effects," the sound effects, the characters all of it was really bad. The plot was paper thin and somehow kinda confusing. ughhh. Half the film is even hard to hear due to poor sound effects. You can see they how some thing have taken from this film-a directing style, noir style, lighting, twists, but mostly it was just a rotten film.
Watching films from the late 1920s it can be difficult to judge them because the on screen actions can seem so ridiculous and the acting so stagey that it can be hard to take it seriously. Alibi is one of those films as it's portrayal of gangsters is so over the top and theatrical that is hard to find them menacing and the performances so laughable that the character arcs are not emotionally affecting. I wanted to like the film but I found that I couldn't take it seriously and I am yet to find a film released in 1929 that I had a good time watching or took something away from.
Criminal Chick Williams, Chester Morris, is in a relationship with police sergeant's daughter Joan Manning, Eleanor Griffith, who believes that he was framed for his crimes and is being unfairly pursued by the police. He commits a robbery and a policeman is brutally murdered but he is defended by Manning when her father and his colleagues interrogate him. In order to capture him the police insert a mole in the form of Danny McGann, Regis Toomey, who pretends to be mentally disabled in order to extract information from Williams and his co-workers. A climactic scene occurs at the restaurant that the criminals regularly visit as McGann's identity is discovered and the police finally have enough evidence to arrest Williams.
Reading that the film was converted from silent to sound in post-production after having watched the film it is fairly obvious that the film was tailored towards viewers of silent film not the new "talkies." All of the acting appears awful by modern standards as every emotion is broadcast loudly to even the most confused audience member. When considering the fact that Morris was nominated for Best Actor you realize that the standards for ‘good' acting were very different back then and his very obvious, show style would have appealed to both audiences and critics at the time. Personally I wanted to be able to argue for this film being one of the best of the 1920s because so far I have not been impressed by The Broadway Melody (1929) and Wings (1927) in my attempt to explore 1920s cinema.
If I had to recommend the film I would say that the most exciting sequences come when we pause from the action and watch unrelated scenes of the dancers at both the theatre our central couple visit and the restaurant that everybody frequents. Much like The Great Ziegfeld (1936) these scenes do inspire awe as we see incredibly beautiful women wearing gorgeous, elaborate costumes gallivanting around stages under very flattering lighting. Unfortunately these scenes are hardly cinematic as you would be even more dazzled by these women kicking up their legs if you saw them in real life on stage. Director Roland West fails to inject any interest and excitement into scenes that don't involve us watching entertainment that has already been procured by the famed Florenz Ziegfeld.
In terms of the 1929 Best Picture nominees, I am trying to watch all of them, this is not as good as The Broadway Melody because it doesn't really hold your attention for long periods of time and doesn't even boast decent period detail. I wouldn't urge anybody to watch this film as it doesn't achieve anything close to being decent and has not held up to today's standards.
Alibi is a solid crime flick with memorable characters, fine plot, excellent and very interesting cinematography and good pacing. It is short and pretty involving to watch. But the sound is expectedly weak, the musical numbers are unnecessary and some of the acting performances are admittedly very hammy.
Outdated doesn't come close to describing "Alibi." This relic of a crime drama is one of the most unwatchable things to ever get nominated for Oscars.
While this movie is a talkie, it has the tone and feel of a classic silent film. So you have to be prepared for some extra melodrama, and overacting. The movie is about some crooks and some cops and the girl who loves people on both sides. While this story is one that will feel familiar to modern audiences, at the time I imagine it was much more unique and special. There were a couple of scenes that I thought really elevated Alibi. The best scene of the entire movie is an interrogation scene where the police try to intimidate someone into talking. That moment includes some interesting visuals, great acting performances, and strong drama. The climax is also a big highlight, because you dont know exactly how things will play out. Mae Busch is the girl in the middle of everything and unfortunately she was not given the greatest role. Even though she has some important things to do in the plot, like most movies from that era she is almost completely controlled by the men around her. The one part of the film that will give modern audiences the most laughs is everything from Regis Toomey. For half of the movie he is pretending to be drunk, and it is a comically over-the-top performance. Then there is a death scene late in the movie that is so drawn out and ridiculous that it goes from dramatic to silly quickly. Yet, despite some things that dont work for me as a modern viewer, I still think Alibi is a strong film for the era and I can see why it was one of the first movies nominated for Best Picture.
good pre-code early talkie that's moody & mysterious
Not a bad little picture for something made in the twenties when I am convinced that filmmakers hadn't quite matured into making decent films.
Best Picture Project: (1928/1929): Well I have no idea if this is worse than In Old Arizona, and I'd like to figure that out, but the sound design on this movie was horrible. Too many times lines come out low or modulated, and this is just a result of the horrible job that Kino did to bring this film onto DVD. What's worse is they didn't even include subtitles, which made the understanding of what was going on very hard to do.
From what I could make out, the plot was very predictable, although I can understand that it was probably pretty good back in its heyday, but being a film that was forced to reshoot to be a talkie, you can see there's a lot of negative effects as a result. There are more awkward pauses and silences in this film then there are in Drive. There are a couple of inspired shots and scenes, but they're not powerful enough to raise up the rest of the film. Poor writing, mediocre direction, and acting so hammy Jews can't go near it, this is a film that has aged so much it's lost itself in its own time.
Although the movie has some good cinematography, it was 29 so there were some sound problems, and most of the actors aren't as good as they could be. The story is predictable for the most part, but the ending was pretty good. Overall, it's okay.
An early attempt at "talkies". Some of the actors still have their silent film manerisms, but it's entertaining none the less.