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Film / Alibi (1929)

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Alibi is a 1929 film directed by Roland West, starring Chester Morris and Eleanore Griffith.

Chick Williams (Morris) is a gangster who has just been sprung from prison. Chick insist that he was framed. Among the people who believe him is his girlfriend Joan Manning (Griffith), daughter of police captain Pete Manning, who is enraged at the idea of his daughter dating an ex-con. Joan thinks the local cops are corrupt, and has rejected the attentions of her suitor, clean-cut cop Tommy Glennon. When the cops try to pin the murder of a security guard during a warehouse robbery on Chick, Joan says that he was with her watching a show at a theater—and also that they are married.

What Joan doesn't know is that Chick actually is guilty of the robbery and murder, having ducked out of the theater during an intermission. The police continue to investigate Chick, inserting into his social one Danny McGann, who goes undercover as drunken stockbroker "Billy Morgan" and gains Chick's confidence.

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Tropes:

  • Alcohol Hic: Danny does this when undercover at the nightclub as "Billy" the drunken reprobate.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Joan rejects squeaky-clean Tommy and instead falls for Chick the ex-con, although at least part of the reason is her disgust at how the police in the town operate.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Danny has an extended death scene in Tommy's arms after the cops burst in to the back room seconds too late.
  • Dirty Coward: When Tommy pulls out a gun and says he's going to murder Chick, the formerly tough-guy gangster breaks down, getting on his hands and knees and begging and pleading, as well as offering to give up Joan.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: From the newsboys hawking special editions with "GUNMAN ESCAPES" headlines after Chick escapes from the nightclub.
  • Fanservice: Several scenes featuring the leg-kicking chorus girls at Buck's nightclub. Toots the chorus girl falls in love with "Billy".
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  • Hand of Death: Just such a hand reaches out of a taxicab to shoot O'Brien the security guard In the Back. We don't find out until later that it was Chick.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Danny says "it's getting hard to see" right before he croaks.
  • The Infiltration: Danny assumes the identity of "Billy Morgan", supposedly a stockbroker but actually a sloppy drunk. He worms his way into Chick's inner circle.
  • In the Back: How Chick shoots the security guard. How Chick shoots Danny, after Toots barrels into the room at the worst possible time and distracts Danny. Danny, who crumples to the floor but is still alive, sneers "You're a great guy, aren't you, when it comes to shooting a guy in the back.
  • Love Triangle: Joan, Tommy the adoring cop, and Chick the dashing criminal.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with Tommy putting his arm around Joan and walking away.
  • One-Word Title: Alibi
  • Roof Hopping: How Tommy meets his end, not quite being able to do this. He escapes from Buck's apartment, dashes to the roof, and leaps over the gap to the next building, but not quite far enough. He loses his balance and falls backwards off the building to his death.
  • Title Drop: After Joan tells her story a frustrated Pete says "They've got the perfect alibi."
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