Saturday, August 13, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Mouthpiece (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

This spring the Warner Archive released the 10th and final volume in the Forbidden Hollywood series of pre-Code films.

The Archive announced it would continue to release pre-Codes, it simply will no longer be putting them out in Forbidden Hollywood collections.

Like its predecessors, Volume 10 is a beauty, with each of the set's five films on its own disc; the initial releases of the set sold by the WBShop are pressed discs. The movies in the set include GUILTY HANDS (1931), SECRETS OF THE FRENCH POLICE (1932), THE MATCH KING (1932), and EVER IN MY HEART (1933).

I watched the fifth film in the set, THE MOUTHPIECE (1932), tonight. It's an excellent film with the inimitable Warren William starring as Vince Day, a prosecutor turned defense lawyer to mobsters.

Vince has no qualms about indulging in sleazy behavior, whether it's sneaking around with a married woman, lifting $10,000 of embezzled money from a client as his "fee," or drinking poison to get his client off the hook for murder -- viewers won't believe how that scenario plays out!

Eventually, though, Vince sees the error of his ways thanks to a young typist from Kentucky named Celia Farraday (Sidney Fox). Celia refuses Vince's amorous advances and tells him the truth about what he's become, at a time when Vince is willing to listen and make needed changes.

THE MOUTHPIECE is a great example of why Warren William was a king of the pre-Code era. Fast-talking, sarcastic, and by turns villainous and noble, he's in most of the scenes and effortlessly engages the audience's full attention.

Aline MacMahon is terrific as Vince's loyal secretary. MacMahon, like William, is a forceful personality, and the two of them are dynamic in their scenes together.

The cast also includes John Wray, Mae Madison, Ralph Ince, J. Carrol Naish, Walter Walker, Jack La Rue, and Morgan Wallace. Watch for a young Paulette Goddard as a blonde playing up to Warren William at a party after the "poison sequence." Charles Lane pops up as a hotel clerk, and Guy Kibbee is a bartender.

THE MOUTHPIECE was directed by James Flood and Elliott Nugent. The movie was filmed by Barney McGill. It runs 86 minutes.

Warner Bros. remade THE MOUTHPIECE as THE MAN WHO TALKED TOO MUCH (1940), starring George Brent, and ILLEGAL (1955) with Edward G. Robinson.

The DVD includes the trailer.  The print and sound quality are excellent, especially considering the film's age.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the WBShop.


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