Missing Witnesses (1937) Is Off WB "B" Shelf
Vice Gangs rule backlot streets yet again at Warners, blowing out same store windows and auto-piling into street lamps, footage used/reused for decades. Crime paid better for WB than anyplace else. No sooner would they finish two/three racket B's than launch one on larger budget with Robinson or Cagney, all a sure thing for action money dependable as sunrise. Talent could be tried as well in the cheap ones --- how else could you road test a Dick Purcell as next Cagney (which he decidedly was not). Writing's fairly punk --- we don't get the sense of anyone laboring much over these scripts --- but how could they when a finished feature had to roll out of Warners each week? It was sheer nervous energy that put most cheap melodrama across, that plus pressure to finish on Friday. Missing Witnesses got a little lost on me as to who heavies were and what they were up to, though it's possible I snoozed through vital exposition. There's endless talk about "protection rackets," which must have been a bigger problem then than now. With all the drug stores and spaghetti joints gone to nationwide chains nowadays, how could crooks lean on but one for rake-offs?