The Kid

Created by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)

City Streets (Paramount, 1931) was one of the few Dashiell Hammett stories written to be adapted to film (After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man are the only others), and as such probably deserves our attention. I've no idea if the film itself is worth digging up or not, but who knows? There's some good camera work, supposedly, and a guy gets stabbed with a fork. And Carl Macek, in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (1980), calls it "an unusually decadent and stylish gangster film."

It's not a private eye tale, but it does star Gary Cooper as "THE KID", a laidback, hick carny working the shooting gallery racket at a travelling fair. Nan, a mobster's daughter, falls in a big way for The Kid, despite his lack of interest in joining daddy's business and supporting her in the lifestyle she's accustomed to. But, when daddy dearest frames her on a murder beef, and she's sent to prison, Nan's attitude changes. While she's whiling away her time in the big house, her father cons The Kid into joining the gang in order to help free Nan, only to have The Kid end up running the gang. But when Nan is sprung, she wants nothing more to do with the mob and tries to get The Kid to quit.

UNDER OATH

  • "Cooper is an unambitious carnival worker who's drawn into the underworld by his love for racketeer's daughter (Sidney). Stylish melodrama is more interesting for Mamoulian's innovative presentation (and the stunning camerawork of Lee Garmes) than for its predictable plot. Lukas and Kibbee stand out in unusually smarmy characterizations. Notable, too, as Dashiell Hammett's only original screen story."

-- Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide

FILMS

  • CITY STREETS
    (1931, Paramount Pictures)
    83 minutes, black and white
    Tagline: Love and courage pitted against a ruthless hate!
    Based on an original story by Dashiell Hammett
    Screenplay by Oliver H.P. Garrett and Max Marcin
    Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
    Cinematography by Lee Garmes
    Produced by E. Lloyd Sheldon
    Starring Gary Cooper as THE KID
    with Sylvia Sidney as Nan
    Also starring William Boyd, Paul Lukas, Guy Kibbee, Terry Carroll, Allan Cavan, William Elliott, Stanley Fields, Norman Foster, Wynne Gibson, Bert Hanlon, Robert Homans, Bob Kortman, Ethan Laidlaw

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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