The Big Shakedown
|The Big Shakedown|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Francis Dillon|
|Produced by||Samuel Bischoff|
|Written by||Samuel G. Engel (story) |
Niven Busch (story and screenplay)
|Starring||Charles Farrell |
|Music by||Leo F. Forbstein|
|Release date(s)||January 6, 1934|
|Running time||64 minutes|
The Big Shakedown is a 1934 American drama film starring Charles Farrell and Bette Davis and directed by John Francis Dillon. The screenplay by Rian James and Niven Busch is based on the story Cut Rate by Busch and Samuel G. Engel. The supporting cast includes Ricardo Cortez and Glenda Farrell.
The melodramatic plot of the Warner Bros. release centers on Jimmy Morrell and Norma Nelson, who plan to wed as soon as their neighborhood pharmacy begins to show a profit. The opportunity arises when former bootlegger Dutch Barnes offers Jimmy a job duplicating name brand toothpaste and cosmetics that can be made cheaply and then sold in the bottles and jars of reputable pharmaceutical companies at regular prices. When Dutch asks him to copy the formula for a popular brand of antiseptic, Jimmy refuses, claiming he's unable to get a key ingredient, but when Dutch offers him a bonus hefty enough to allow Jimmy to marry Norma, he agrees.
Dutch's ex-girlfriend Lily Duran, jealous over his attentions to another woman, notifies the antiseptic company about the deception, and is murdered by Dutch. Without their key witness, the company is forced to drop their lawsuit against Jimmy. Now beholden to Dutch, he is forced to make fake digitalis, which Norma is given during childbirth, prompting her to lose the baby.
Jimmy seeks vengeance against Dutch, but before he can achieve his goal Sheffner, who formulated the antiseptic Jimmy manufactured, shoots Dutch. Jimmy confesses everything to the district attorney and is exonerated, allowing him and Norma to return to life as they once knew it.
- Charles Farrell as Jimmy Morrell
- Bette Davis as Norma Nelson
- Ricardo Cortez as Dutch Barnes
- Glenda Farrell as Lily Duran
- Allen Jenkins as Lefty
- Henry O'Neill as Sheffner
The New York Times said, "[The picture's] particular virtue . . . is that it is specific and believable in its description of the felonious behavior involved in the racket. Thus it maintains a moderate sum of interest and excitement in the face of a routine assortment of gang-film impedimenta."