Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and colorful directors. Born to a well-to-do Jewish family in Budapest, he ran away from home at age 17 to join a circus, then trained for an acting career at the Royal Academy for Theater and Art. He worked as a leading man at the Hungarian Theatre before directing stage plays and then films. His first cinematic effort was Az Utolsó Bohém (1912), which was also the first feature-length film ever made in Hungary. Curtiz soon moved on to the more progressive Danish film industry, returning to his homeland in 1914 and serving a year in the Austro-Hungarian infantry before resuming his film career. While it may be arguable that Curtiz was Hungary’s finest director, he was certainly its busiest, making no fewer than 14 films in 1917, most of which starred his first wife, actress Lucy Dorraine. When the Hungarian film industry was nationalized by the new communist government in 1919, Curtiz packed his bags and headed for Sweden… read more
An amazing film: although it may have been made after the introduction of the Code (1934 seems a little late for a Pre-Code film) it behaves exactly like one of its amoral predecessors: the open admiration for Cagney's honestly corrupt methods, the 1000-word-a-minute pace. The insane plot has something to do with con-artists, scams and a prim Bette Davis, who is more interested in Cagney's methods than she lets on.