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The Earl of Chicago

(1940 b 87')

En: 5 Ed: 6

Based on a book by Brock Williams, a gangster inherits an English earldom, but the lawyer he sent to prison gets revenge by bankrupting his liquor business.

Silky Kilmount (Robert Montgomery) in a limousine picks up Doc Ramsey (Edward Arnold) as he is released from prison after seven years. Doc asks Silky to clear him of the bribery for which he framed him. Silky shows Doc his business "employees" and tells them to get rid of a gun. Doc says that Silky is a Sybarite and esthetic. Gervase Gonwell (Reginald Owen) tells Doc that Silky is now an earl with estates in England. Doc has Silky give him power of attorney, but Silky takes Doc with him to London. Silky says he wants dough, but the death tax leaves only land. Doc orders Scotch liquor to be shipped to Chicago. Gonwell takes Silky and Doc to the castle, where Silky is greeted by his cousin Gerald Kilmount (Ronald Sinclair) and the staff of servants. Doc tells Gerald that Silky fears guns because of trauma when he was young. Silky asks butler Munsey (Edmund Gwenn) to go to Chicago with him. Silky joins a tour of his castle and notes the value of things. Doc tells Silky he can join the House of Lords. Silky has to rehearse the ceremony. Silky is presented in the House of Lords and takes the oath to the king. Doc tells Silky that America has traditions too.

Munsey explains to Silky that they are in different classes. Silky takes fruit to his oldest tenant and visits Gerald's old nurse Nana. Silky finds Munsey polishing silver and says he is going to sell land; but Munsey informs him he can't sell entailed land. Silky complains to Doc that he lied. Doc tells him he is broke and in debt. Doc pulls a gun and leaves it; but Silky shoots Doc in the back six times. Munsey comes in and calls police. At the inquest Munsey calls it an accident. Silky is arrested for murder and says nothing. He is tried by his peers in the House of Lords but is dazed and recalls random incidents, saying Doc ratted on him and had it coming. Silky is found guilty and is sentenced to be hanged. Munsey visits Silky in the tower to give him proper clothes and assures him as he walks to the scaffold. In the final scene the tour guide (Billy Bevan) shows visitors the portrait of the Earl of Chicago.

This unglamorous portrayal of a greedy and ignorant gangster contrasts him to the British aristocratic tradition that swiftly removes him after he reverts to his violent way.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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