Lloyd Bacon's 1938 murder comedy begins where Damon Runyon's A Pocketful of Miracles ends, with the central character--bootlegger Remy Marco (played with wonderful swagger by Edward G. Robinson)--going straight. His former mobster crones are told to get shaves, to dress less loudly, and somehow alter their famed Runyon accents in order to becomes salesmen for Marco's brewery which, suddenly with the end of prohibition, is legal!. At home, Marco's wife Mary (Jane Bryan), when told of his business plans, quick attempts to speak like a society dame (for a moment successfully channeling Margaret Dumont) and nixes the various crap games going on in the living room during a raucous party. Their slot machine room now is described as a music room! In short, their world is about to change.
Fortunately for us, none is successful in his or her intended transformations, the accents they imitate slipping back into the street jargon, with Marco’s formerly illegal occupation—which once made him rich—are now going bust. For Marco, a teetotaler, has never tasted his ghastly Velvet brew. Bankers are about to call in their loan in order to take over the brewery with the knowledge that it’s not the facilities that are at fault, but the product. As if that weren’t enough, Marco, who has been forced by finances to call home his expensively educated daughter, is determined to return to their rented summer house in Saratoga with a young orphan—the worst behaved boy in his alma mater, an orphanage headed by the eagle-eyed Margaret Hamilton—in tow.
This mulligan stew has so many loose threads, in fact, that it seems from the outset that they can never all be tied up, and Runyon’s tale can end in any number of various ways, as the discovered bodies are shipped out to various locations and gathered up again with the news of a “dead or alive” award; the murderer slinks through the house to reclaim the satchel of stolen