The Beast of the City Reviews
Walter Huston plays a police officer who is Ivory Soap pure, and who vows to clean up the city after he's promoted to chief of police. Unfortunately, a major problem with the film is there is no effective counterbalance to his role. There are 'bad guys' of course, and a few requisite chase and shootout scenes, but their presence is tepid, and there certainly is no 'beast of the city' that the title would suggest.
Harlow, on the other hand, is sensational in the roll of the gangsters' moll who seduces the brother of Huston's character, who is also a cop. The scenes of her reclining back on a chaise lounge, and later swaying her body in an eastern style dance are absolutely electric. In a prelude to 'The Red-Headed Woman' which would appear later in the same year, when he grabs her by the arm and says "You don't like to be hurt, do ya?", she slowly drawls, "Oh I don't know ... it's kinda fun sometimes if it's done in the right spirit."
Unfortunately, that's just about it. There's police procedure, we see Huston at home, we see him lecturing fellow officers (zzzz), and we have a typical courtroom trial near the end. Oh, if you're a Mickey Rooney fan, you may like to see him in a small part at age 11; that was somewhat cute.
I won't spoil the ending but have to say it's horrible, not just because of what happens, but because of how illogical and inconsistent it is. It's also highly melodramatic, and a bookend to the beginning of the film, which has a quote from President Herbert Hoover extolling the virtues of the police and their need for better support. If you think about the actions of the police in the film however, you may find yourself a little puzzled. It's just a bad movie with one bright spot, Harlow.