Dix plays Phillip, an irresponsible gambler who deeply loves his little girl Alice (Edith Fellows). He steals her away from his coldhearted ex-wife Florence (Erin O'Brien-Moore), but fate catches up with him when he inadvertently causes the death of an old girlfriend (Shirley Grey) who threatens to tell Florence his and Alice's whereabouts.
Phillip goes to jail and Alice is returned to Florence, and as Alice grows into a young woman (now played by Dorothy Wilson) her mother tries to keep control of the girl by insisting she's an invalid who can't walk. It struck me that in this regard there's more than a touch of THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET to the story; it's interesting to note that HIS GREATEST GAMBLE was released just a month ahead of the Norma Shearer version of BARRETTS.
The film packs a great deal of story into its 71 minutes. It may not always make logical sense -- for instance, though Alice was nine when Phillip went to jail, she doesn't recognize him when they're reunited and believes his story that he's her "Uncle John."
Dix is ably supported by Cabot as Alice's young man; this was made the same year Cabot appeared in FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), where he was Prince Charming for another young lady with mother issues. Leonard Carey also registers strongly as Alfred, Florence's butler who's soon in "John's" corner helping Alice and Stephen.
I also liked Dorothy Wilson, who was delightful in MEN OF AMERICA (1932); the Alice character could have come off as an easily persuaded dimwit but she manages to be sympathetic and likeable as the girl under her mother's thumb, who eventually finds the courage to live her own life.
Look for Samuel S. Hinds in a brief role as a doctor who's fired by Florence when he refuses to order Alice to stay in bed.
The movie was directed by John S. Robertson and filmed by Ted Tetzlaff.
Previous reviews of Richard Dix films: THE PUBLIC DEFENDER (1931), HELL'S HIGHWAY (1932), ROAR OF THE DRAGON (1932), THE ARIZONIAN (1935), SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR (1936), YELLOW DUST (1936), IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD (1937), BLIND ALIBI (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), MEN AGAINST THE SKY (1940), THE ROUNDUP (1941), TOMBSTONE: THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE (1942), and THE KANSAN (1943).
The Warner Archive DVD of HIS GREATEST GAMBLE is a fine print. There are no extras.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.