The Devil's Party
THE DEVIL'S PARTY. 1938

Director: Ray McCarey

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Marty Malone (Victor McLaglen) is a club owner with gangster connections. When a client (Bill Elliott) welches on a gambling debt, he sends Diamond & Sam (Joe Downing & Frank Jenks) to strongarm the man into paying up, but Diamond bangs on him a bit too hard & kills him. To cover the crime they arrange for a huge neon sign to come down in the storm, crushing the dead body.

The police "emergency squad" shows up, including the brothers Mike & Joe O'Mara (William Gargan & John Gallaudet). Homicide cops have already declared it an accident, but Joe sees where the sign's stanchion has been sheered off clean. He knows it's sabotage & murder, but can't convince the lazy homicide detectives to look more closely at the case.

Marty's club singer is Helen McCoy (Beatrice Roberts) is introduced singing the song "Things are Coming My Way" (by Jimmy "Sunny Side of the Street" McHugh) & sings it quite well. Marty is in love with her; but she's probably in love with the cop, Mike O'Mara.

Father Jerry Donovan (Paul Kelly) is part of the same circle of friends, who formed a gang when they were little kids in Devil's Kitchen. He's now a priest who runs a Boy's Club, to which Marty would like to donate a great deal of money, but Marty doesn't want the kids looking up to a gambler.

Jerry loves Marty, though, & knows that he took a juvenile rap when they were all kids together, keeping mum to protect the rest of the gang. The rest of them all grew up honest, & Marty's a pretty decent fellow too, for a crook.

When Marty finds out one of his henchmen killed a man, he's beside himself with fury, but is in no position to turn anybody over to the cops. He lets them know his friend Joe found evidence of the crime, so they'd better get out of town. Instead, they go back to the scene of the crime to tinker with the evidence, making the stanchion look broken rather than cut.

While they're affecting this cover-up, Joe turns up to re-investigate the site, & the thugs throw him from the roof.

Mike O'Mara knows his brother's instincts were correct & he must have been murdered, but the second-rate homicide cops again declare it an accident, falling from the slippery roof during a rainstorm.

Mike goes on a rampage seeking the murderer, & begins to find clues that lead to his childhood friend Marty. Helen & Jerry won't believe ill of Marty, but Joe gets ready to kill their gangster chum.

Meanwhile Diamond & Sam well know that Marty's feelings of guilt are eventually going to make him talk, so they make plans to murder both Marty & Joe. The plot thickens with kidnapping of Helen & other Monkeys in the works, until Marty redeems himself in the manner expected of such films.

There's a sweet coda to the film that goes well beyond the romance of Joe & Helen, but I won't give it away. Enough to say this is a wonderful old crime film. The familiar plot is enriched with some very fine character interactions.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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