Jolly Cinema > 12:00


Irving Cummings


Thursday 28/06/2018


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Never quite sure what to do with their unruly, unconventional new star Spencer Tracy, the Fox brass insisted on casting him in conventional tough-guy roles, including this curiosity that broke Hollywood’s informal ban on kidnapping stories instituted in the wake of the Lindbergh tragedy. Tracy plays a high-minded bootlegger who refuses to go along with the recommendation of his second-in-command (J. Carrol Naish) that they switch to snatching babies when Prohibition ends; Claire Trevor, here at the beginning of her long association with Fox, is the newspaper reporter who loves him. Like several films of the early 30s, The Mad Game envisions an America on the verge of moral and political collapse, and suggests that the only way out is to put a strong man in charge: in the film’s most disquieting scene, Tracy’s Ed Carson receives members of a federal “Commission on the Suppression of Organized Crime” in his jail cell, and proposes a list of remedies that range from a ban on selling guns and ammunition to the fingerprinting of everyone in the country. Instead, they release the gangster himself, give him a new face with plastic surgery, and turn him loose on his old comrades. Although Tracy had failed to catch on with audiences, critics were beginning to appreciate his inner-focused, naturalistic acting style, particularly after his performance in William K. Howard’s The Power and the Glory; the “New York Times” praised his performance in The Mad Game as “superlatively real”.

Dave Kehr

Cast and Credits

Sog., Scen.: William Conselman, Henry Johnson. F.: Arthur Miller. Scgf.: Duncan Cramer. Int.: Spencer Tracy (Edward Carson), Claire Trevor (Jane Lee), Ralph Morgan (giudice Penfield), Howard Lally (Thomas Penfield), J. Carrol Naish (Chopper Allen), John Miljan (William Bennett), Matt McHugh (Butts McGee), Kathleen Burke (Marilyn Kirk), Mary Mason (Lila Penfield), Willard Robertson (Warden). Prod.: William Fox per Fox Film Corporation 35mm. D.: 74’. Bn.