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30-second reviews

Penthouse (1933)

W.S. Van Dyke’s seriocomic melodrama crime B-picture stars Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy, Charles Butterworth, Mae Clarke, Phillips Holmes, C. Henry Gordon, Martha Sleeper, and Nat Pendleton in a fluff piece that has not dated well. When gangster Tony Gazotti (Pendleton) promises to help lawyer Jackson Durant (Baxter), Durant shrugs off the advice until he ends up in a murderous web that include his gold-digging fiance Mimi (Clarke), Mimi’s lover Tom (Holmes), and call girl Gertie (Loy). 

But if there is a saving grace for this timekiller, it is Penthouse's excellent pre-Code dialogue (one also couldn't have depicted call girls after the implementation of the Hays Code - a censorship code that began to be strictly enforced upon Hollywood films in 1934 and dissolved by the 1960s) with all of its thinly-veiled sexual innuendos despite a largely forgettable plot.  There are other behaviors - mostly on Loy's part - that certainly would have been banned by the Hays Code the following year. If anything, the film serves as a warm-up to Loy's role in The Thin Man (1934) as her sassy performance here is a prototype to better things that awaited for her. Pendleton acts nothing like a gangster and most everybody else delivers an average performance amid a plot too light to sustain.

My rating: 6/10

^ Based on my personal imdb rating.

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