Follow TV Tropes


Film / Gentleman's Fate

Go To

Gentleman's Fate is a 1931 drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

Jack Thomas (John Gilbert) lives pretty much the ideal life, lounging about in a luxurious New York City apartment, enjoying an income left for him by his deceased parents rather than holding a job, and also enjoying a hot girlfriend, Marjorie (Leila Hyams).

Shocking news from the guardian of his trust fund upends this happy story. Jack learns that the story he's been told of being orphaned as a baby isn't true, that he isn't an orphan at all, and he isn't even "Jack Thomas". He's actually Giacomo Tomasulo, and the money that's supported him all his life comes not from an inheritance from dead WASP parents but from his father Francesco, a mobster and bootlegger who is alive but currently dying from a bullet wound.

Jack, summoned to his father's bedside, also meets his brother Frank (Louis Wolheim), who runs the family bootlegging business. His father tells Jack that Jack's mother wanted him kept away from their life of crime. Francesco gives Jack an emerald necklace to give to his fiancée...but when that necklace turns out to be stolen, Jack's life starts to unravel.


Anita Page turns up in the third act as Ruth, another love interest for Jack. Next-to-last film for Louis Wolheim, who died of stomach cancer a couple of weeks before it was released.


  • As You Know: Jack tells Marjorie to tell her parents, and the movie audience, that he is independently wealthy due to an inheritance from his parents, "Although mother and father are dead, as you know."
  • Battle in the Rain: A confrontation between Frank's gang and Florio's gang over bootleg liquor being smuggled in from Canada takes place in a driving rain. It ends with Jack shooting Florio's sidekick Dante before Dante can kill Frank.
  • Between My Legs: Jack is framed on the floor between Frank's legs after Frank lays him out with a punch, establishing that Frank is flat-out stronger than Jack is. After that they make friends.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: Florio and his gang have figured out that the bartender at their lair is actually informing on them to Frank's gang. So they tell him some false info about when they're going to attack, wait for the bartender to call Frank's gang, and then murder him after he does.
  • Brick Joke: In the opening scene Jack is in such a hurry to get his swanky apartment ready for Marjorie's arrival (mostly, he has to take down all the pictures of other women) that he insists his butler get out of bed without changing out of his pajamas. In the next scene the butler has a cold which he blames on Jack.
  • Downer Ending: Instead of getting out of the bootlegging business and enjoying happiness with Ruth, Jack is killed in the final shootout with Florio.
  • Erotic Eating: In the scene where Mabel is wiggling her butt at Mike (see Ignore the Fanservice below), she is also eating a banana.
  • Idle Rich: Before his world is turned upside down, Jack was living a life of leisure.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Mabel (Marie Prevost) is sending out all sorts of mating signals to Mike, one of Frank's minions. In one scene she comes out in a tight dress, turns around, and obviously and deliberately shakes her bottom at him. He does not pay attention, instead focusing on his game of solitaire.
    Mabel: Well you might take a look!
    Mike: At what?
    Mabel: At me!
  • Mutual Kill: Florio and Jack shoot each other at the end of the movie. Since Florio is the villain he expires from an Instant Death Bullet while Jack, the hero, gets a lingering death scene.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Continually suggested by Mabel, who repeatedly, enthusiastically asks Mike to murder his wife who lives in Philadelphia.
  • Replacement Goldfish: When Jack first sees Ruth, from behind, he mistakes her for Marjorie as they are both slim platinum blondes. This is clearly why he's interested in her, although unlike most instances of Replacement Goldfish it works out.
  • Separated at Birth: Jack learns that not only was the whole story of his life a lie, he has a brother he didn't know about. Frank the bare-knuckled gangster and Jack the refined rich boy don't get along at first but they soon form a bond.
  • Shaking the Rump: Mabel literally shakes her butt at Mike in an attempt to draw his interest. She fails.
  • Thicker Than Water: Florio offers Frank peace in their mob war and a profit-sharing relationship, but only if Frank lets Florio kill Jack. Frank refuses.
  • Time Skip: "Several months later at Florio's headquarters" introduces a scene where Florio's gang is hashing out a plan to murder Jack, in revenge for Dante's death.