1931 MGM

Directed by George Hill. Screenplay and dialogue by Frances Marion.
Photography by Harold Wenstrom.
Edited by Blanche Sewell.
Release date: April 18, 1931.
Running time: 83 minutes.

CAST: Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, John Mack Brown, Jean Harlow, Marjorie Rambeau, Paul Hurst, Clark Gable, Ralph Bellamy, John Miljan, DeWitt Jennings, Murray Kinnell, Fletcher Norton, Louis Natheaux, Frank McGlynn, Theodore Von Eta.


During the prohibition era, Scorpio (Wallace Beery), Mizoski, the "Gouger" (Paul Hurst), and Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy) start a bootleg liquor business. When their activities spread to the big city, rival gangster leader Colimo (John Miljan) becomes anxious. Franks and some underlings pay a visit to Colimo's brother at his club. Franks kills Colimo's brother and places the blame on Scorpio. Scorpio is wounded and, learning that Franks has pulled a doublecross, kills him. Colimo is also rubbed out.

Hank (John Mark Brown) and Carl (Clark Cable), two reporters, set out to investigate the gangland killings. When Scorpio sees them hanging around his café he hires Anne( Jean Harlow), a lusty blonde, as a cashier to distract them.

Six leading businessmen, a group of reformers known only as 'The Secret Six," ask Hank to get evidence against the gang. He locates Scorpio's gun. Anne learns he has the murder weapon and that he is being followed by Scorpio's men. On a subway train her attempts to warn him are useless and he is murdered.

Anne goes to the law, and Scorpio is brought to trial but acquitted b a fixed jury. Scorpio has Anne y
kidnapped and Carl goes to her rescue but is also made prisoner. The reformers and police raid the hideout while Carl gets Anne to safety. Scorpio tries to escape with Newton (Lewis Stone), his lawyer and the brains of the gang. In an argument over splitting up the cash they are carrying, Scorpio shoots him; but Newton, before he dies, kills Scorpio.


Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times: Jean Harlow, the ash-blonde of several other such tales, once again appears as the girl in the case - -The picture moves along swiftly and the dialogue is quite well written Clark Gable, who has been seen mostly as a gangster, undertakes the part of a newspaper writer named Carl does valiant work. Mr. Gable is another whose acting is forceful, and the same might be said of John Mack Brown, who appears as Hank.

Photoplay: You will see exactly how liquor is made; you will witness the most thrilling gangster chase ever filmed. Beautifully produced and directed by George Hill. Cast is splendid. - . . No; gangster pictures are not dead-not as long as they produce thrillers like this!

Thornton Delehanty, New York Post: Jean Harlow plays Berry's girl friend, a plausible character softened by love for the reporter . . . The Secret Six is another neat gang melodrama, genuinely thrilling . . . The picture is unusually well directed and it moves with a pulsating speed. The acting, too, is generally on a high level.

London Film Weekly: A more appropriate title for this ruthless underworld story would be Slaughterhouse, the grim nickname of Scorpio the killer, whose rise to gang leadership and even more precipitate fall it traces. Wallace Beery's magnificently repellent study of the brutish gunman dominates the film, even though such capable actors as Lewis Stone, Clark Gable and John Miljan are in the cast. It is a splendid, uncompromising performance in which nothing has been spared to achieve realism.

Movie Mirrors: Bootleggers gain control of a town and move into the city; but those still alive are eventually caught by an undercover investigation.

Stockyard worker Louis Scorpio (Wallace Beery) and his rod are hired by bootlegger Johnny Franks (Ralph Bellamy). Jimmy Delano is warned not to sell alcohol to a rival gang, and the cops raid the still. Franks and Scorpio escape and tell Richard Newton (Lewis Stone) that Delano was arrested. Scorpio and Johnny are paid for bootlegging. Joe Colimo (John Miljan) sends his gang after Franks. Amid shooting Franks and Scorpio are chased in a car but return to Newton. Franks sends Scorpio for a load. Colimo with his gang comes in and asks who got his brother. Franks tells him where he can find Scorpio. At the dock Scorpio is shot but makes it back wounded. He finds his bottle of milk in the waste-basket and kills Franks. Newton hides Scorpio's gun before the police come in. Reporters Hank Rogers (Johnny Mack Brown) and Carl Luckner (Clark Gable) call in the story and flirt with waitress Anne Courtland (Jean Harlow).

Scorpio takes over Franks' business and gives Carl a present of money. Scorpio promotes Nick Mizoski (Paul Hurst) for mayor, and he wins. Colimo calls on Scorpio and suggests they work together. Mizoski fires police chief Donlin (DeWitt Jennings). Anne tells Scorpio that she is going to marry Hank. Scorpio offers Hank money, but he declines it and rejects Anne too. Colimo is murdered. Scorpio plans to move into the city with bootlegging. He learns some stills were closed when his weekly income decreases. Carl is helping the District Attorney, who has formed the "secret six" men in masks. Hank examines the bullets that killed Franks and Colimo, learning both were from the same gun. Hank searches and finds Scorpio's gun. Scorpio sees Hank, but Carl says he invited him. Hank takes a train, and Anne catches it to warn him; but Hank is shot dead. At the church service police arrest Scorpio.

Carl warns Anne not to testify. Scorpio is denied bail, and police question the formerly dumb Metz (Murray Kinnell). Metz testifies against Scorpio, though Newton shows that Metz is a wanted criminal. Anne testifies that Scorpio said he was going to kill Hank. Newton brings out that she got gifts from Scorpio. Scorpio tells Eddie not to let Anne get away. The jury, apparently bribed, finds Scorpio not guilty. Carl calls the law on Scorpio, but he is brought to Scorpio and is asked who are the secret six. The police close in, and Newton orders men to shoot Donlin. Carl breaks free and grabs a gun. Donlin is shot first. Scorpio demands money from Newton and shoots him for it. Scorpio climbs into Peaches' window, and she locks him in her closet. Carl and the police arrest him.

This gangster melodrama is based on the rise and fall of Al Capone, who took over a Chicago suburb before moving into the city. Acquitted for murder, he was eventually imprisoned for income tax evasion.

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