Various pennyante crooks in major cities throughout America receive telegrams that delight them. They begin to gather in Central City (Chicago). So begins Baby Face Morgan (1942), a nice little B gangster picture with a talented cast & a big sense of humor.
Nice small town guy Eddie Morgan (Richard Cromwell) never knew his dad, a big-time gangster recently deceased. When Eddie inherits his dad's business, the Acme Protection Company, he mistakes it for an actual insurance company.
Without letting Eddie know it's a protection racket, gangsters let him play at being company president, while building up the myth of the unseen master criminal "Baby Face" Morgan as head of a growing protection racket. He has no idea they intend to leave him behind as fall-guy if the Feds finally get round to cracking down.
Eddie & his cousin Olly (Chick Chandler) get bored with too little to do in the company's presidential office. They begin selling insurance policies to the very businesses the mob is harrassing. Soon he's paying out on the policies as fast as the bad guys can get the money in the Acme bank account.
Olly & Eddie, realizing that this Baby Face Morgan guy is the main problem with the company being profitable, hire a detective to track down this Baby Face so that Eddie can personally confront the guy who has been harrassing his clients.
This is of course a gangster comedy nowhere intended to be taken seriously. So there's a romantic leading lady for Eddie, Virginia (Mary Carlisle), who gets kidnapped & saved in the course of the story. Even the gangster Willie (Warren Hymer) who is supposed to keep tabs on Eddie is too busy playing with pet rabbits to ever notice what the company president is doing.
But one character is played for scariness, Joe Torelli (Ralf Harolde) who really would like to take over as godfather if this Baby Face Morgan guy can be gotten rid of.
A charming film, & especially wonderful in context of the serious gangster films of the day, Baby Face Morgan sweetly spoofs the genre, without getting too silly to be at the same time a fairly good story.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl