In The World Gone Mad (1933), slangy fast-talking news reporter Andy Terrell (Pat O'Brien) & the new District Attorney Lionel Houston (Neil Hamilton, later Commissioner Gordon opposite Adam West's Batman) set out to solve the mystery of the death of the previous District Attorney, Lionel's friend & a victim of industrialist criminality.
The Depression era tale of corporate wrong-doing in an energy company is awfully reminiscent of today's Enron scandals, or the murder of Karen Silkwood in an attempt to stop whistleblowing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant. It's weird to realize how true to life & unexaggerated this little Hollywood mystery really is!
O'Brien's character is not entirely scrupulous, arranging a fairly daring kidnapping of a mobster in the name of getting his story, & keeping such facts from his pal the D.A. But beyond his eagerness to break even the law for the sake of a story, he also has the selfless desire, for the sake of the slain man's daughter, to clear the former D.A.'s name since his death was accompanied by a frame-up scandal.
Lionel, too, was friends with the former D.A. & is likewise personally invested in clearing the dead man's name, but is discouraged to find clues leading to the doorstep of his own girlfriend's father, an energy tycoon.
There's a daring drunken bedroom scene between Andy & a gangster's moll shot mostly in shadow to hide the censorable goings-on. This & the surprisingly brutal suicide content should qualify The World Gone Mad as a film noir from immediately before the primary era of classic film noirs.
Though most of the actors are minor, they're competent to the task, & Pat O'Brien shines, giving the standard (or cliche reporter-character his own authentic Irish American take. The tale moves along with economy & never stalls. Overall it's a decent film, even if no classic, with moments of wit worthy of The Thin Man series.
For an amusing aside, watch for the scene outside a cinema house, advertising the same small production studio's biggest (but still not very big) commercial success, The Vampire Bat (1933).
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl