Smart Money (1931)


“Boy, am I itching to get into that game. ” – Nick ‘The Barber’ Venizelos

Number of Times Seen – 1 (2 Jul 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A small town barber who is quite lucky at gambling tries to break into the gambling scene in New York only to be constantly outdone by his weakest for women.

My Take on it – This is a film that I came across when it was suggested to me by my friend James of Blogging by Cinema Light during a conversation we had on a podcast.

I knew very little about it besides the fact that it was the only film where Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney worked together on.

Robinson does a wonderful job with the lead role and is able to make it truly believable that this character is one of the luckiest gamblers in the world.

The way that they show his rise to power works quite well and we get to see how he slowly rises up among the ranks to the place he feels he belongs.

His weakness for women is quite easy to spot from the start despite the fact that he makes it seem as if it’s under control, but we get to see that it’s a clear pattern in his life.

Cagney is also great here in a much smaller role, but the two of them have amazing chemistry together which makes it quite a shame that they never worked again together on film during both of their storied careers.

His character serves as a close confident yet also a conscience for Robinson’s character who tries to steer him along teh right path in life despite the fact that his friend doesn’t want to listen to him.

The story goes into some pretty dark places yet still works the whole way through.

Bottom Line – Robinson is great in this film and really gives us the impression that he is one of the luckiest gambling on the planet. His rise to power is shown quite well as he slowly works his way up to where he belongs. The fact that he has one blatant weakness seems to be under control at the beginning, but it’s easy to see the pattern along the way. Cagney is also great here as Robinson’s partner, but also his conscience who tries to keep him on the right path throughout. The two of them have great chemistry together and it’s unfortunate that this was the only film that they ever made together. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – At the time the movie was made, James Cagney had appeared in several movies but was not yet a big star. During the making of Smart Money (1931), Cagney was simultaneously filming The Public Enemy (1931) with director William A. Wellman. (Screenwriters Kubec Glasmon and John Bright were re-writing dialogue for “Public Enemy” while working on the set of “Smart Money.”) Knowing that his friend Edward G. Robinson was already a star, Cagney deferred to Robinson in most of their scenes together. But by the time “Smart Money” was released, “The Public Enemy” had been out for several months and had made Cagney a star as well, so Warner Brothers put Cagney and Robinson’s faces together on posters for the film, and gave them equal billing. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)

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One thought on “Smart Money (1931)

  1. Pingback: MovieRob Monthly Roundup – July 2019 | MovieRob

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