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Big City Blues

(1932 b 63')

En: 5 Ed: 4

Based on a play by Ward Morehouse, a young man goes to New York city, gains experience, loses his money, is arrested for murder, and returns to Indiana.

Bud (Eric Linden) is going to New York. The train station agent (Grant Mitchell) tells Bud all the jobs he had in New York. Bud buys a one-way ticket and gives him his dog. Bud gets a room in the Hercules Hotel on the 36th floor. Cousin Gibbony (Walter Catlett) arrives and learns Bud inherited $1100. Gibbony claims to know people and introduces Bud to Vida (Joan Blondell) and Faun (Inez Courtney). Bud gives them $10 for cab fare, and Gibbony borrows $100 for a party after the show. Liquor is delivered with labels on the bottles. When the party moves downstairs for a while, Bud and Vida talk on the stairs. Bud offers sandwiches, and Gibbony opens a bottle noisily. Hummel (Guy Kibbee), the hotel detective, tells them to be quiet and takes a drink. Shep (Humphrey Bogart) and drunk Len Sully (Lyle Talbot) fight. Jackie (Josephine Dunn) is hit on the head with a bottle and is dead. Everyone leaves. Then Bud leaves too. Hummel comes back, sees Vida, and finds the dead body. He talks with the police and reporters.

Bud looks for Vida at the theater and goes into a speakeasy. A woman offers him a drink, and he buys her a brandy. They go to the 55 Club, where Bud finds Vida. She wants to gamble, and he stakes her. Vida rolls the dice. Bud bets his last $100 and lets it ride, winning four times; then he loses it all. Bud and Vida are arrested. Both say they don't know who hit Jackie; but they are held for murder. The police bring in the people from the party but are still looking for Len Sully. Hummel brags about what he did and then finds Sully hanging in a closet with the other half of the broken bottle. Police conclude he killed her and then himself, and they release everyone. At the station Vida says good-bye to Bud and asks him to send her a wire from Indiana. Bud returns, gets his dog back, and sends a telegram. Bud says he wants to go back to New York, because he was wrong, not the city. He plans to save his money in order to go to New York again.

The naive and innocent Bud gets quick lessons in big-city living from his cousin and other fast operators; yet the excitement of the urban culture, as dangerous as it is, still lures him.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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