AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Guilty Generation
Director: Rowland V. Lee (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Nov 1931
Production Date:   17 Aug--12 Sep 1931
Duration (in mins):   82
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Leo Carrillo (Mike Palmero)  
    Constance Cummings (Maria Palmero)  
    Robert Young (Marco Ricca, also known as Marco Smith)  
    Leslie Fenton (Joe Palmero)  
    Boris Karloff (Tony Ricca)  
    Emma Dunn (Nina)  
    Jimmy Wilcox (Don)  
    Elliott Rothe (Benedicto Ricca)  
    Phil Tead (Skid)  
    Frederic Howard (Bradley)  
    Eddie Boland (Willie)  
    William J. O'Brien (Victor)  
    Ruth Warren (Nellie)  
    Murray Kinnell (Jerry)  

Summary: A ruthless war takes place between the Palmero and Ricca gangs after the two leaders end a partnership. When two innocent children are killed in the conflict, the public outrcy forces the gang leaders to flee the city. The socially ambitious Mike Palmero goes to Florida, where he attempts to finesse his way into high society after becoming wealthy through bootlegging. He still surrounds himself with bodyguards and continues to run his gang, while Tony Ricca runs his operation from the outskirts of Chicago. Mike's beautiful daughter Maria, who has been reared in a French convent, loathes her father's underworld activities, even though she knows the money he earns from them will raise her to social prominence. Mike hires a publicity woman and invites the well-known people of the city to a party in order to get Maria's picture in the newspapers. At the party, Maria meets handsome architect Marco Smith, who is actually Tony's son. Marco has disowned his father, however, and assumed the name of Smith to distance himself from Tony's lifestyle. Maria and Marco fall in love, but Maria is afraid to tell her father for fear of feuling the Palmero-Ricca feud. As members of the gangs continue to kill one another, Mike orders the murder of Benedicto, Tony's favorite son. Tony retaliates by having Maria's brother Joe killed in a hail of machine gun fire. While dying, Joe informs his father that Marco is also a Ricca. Meanwhile, Marco and Maria have eloped, and they return to tell her father. Mike plans to kill Marco but delays the murder in order to torture him with anxiety. Maria's grandmother Nina helps Marco escape, however, and kills her son rather than allow him to order the execution of Marco and Maria. The young lovers are thus free to build a new life together, while the rival gangs dwindle under the attrition of constant reprisals. 

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Rowland V. Lee (Dir)
  William Crosby (Asst dir)
Writer: Jack Cunningham (Adpt and dial)
Photography: Byron Haskin (Photog)
Film Editor: Otis Garrett (Film ed)
Sound: George Cooper (Sd eng)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play The Guilty Generation by Jo Milward and J. Kirby Hawkes (copyrighted as The Windy City 24 Sep 1928).
Authors: J. Kirby Hawkes
  Jo Milward

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 4/11/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2613

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Gangster
Subjects (Major): Feuds
  Family relationships
  Italian Americans
Subjects (Minor): Architects
  Chicago (IL)
  Mothers and sons
  Social climbers

Note: According to the Var review, the scenes set in Florida and Leo Carrillo's Italian dialect suggest a comparison between the character "Mike Palmero" and to real life gangster Al Capone. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   22 Nov 31   p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald   28 Nov 31   p. 45.
New York Times   21 Nov 31   p. 20.
Variety   24 Nov 31   p. 17.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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