AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Bad Company
Alternate Title: The Mad Marriage
Director: Tay Garnett (Dir)
Release Date:   2 Oct 1931
Production Date:   began mid-Jun 1931
Duration (in mins):   65 or 75
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Helen Twelvetrees (Helen [King])  
    Ricardo Cortez (Goldie Gorio)  
    John Garrick (Steve [Carlyle])  
    Paul Hurst (Butler)  
    Frank Conroy ([Markham] King)  
    Harry Carey (McBaine)  
    Frank McHugh (Doc)  
    Kenneth Thomson (Barnes)  
    Arthur Stone (Dummy)  
    Emma Dunn (Emma)  
    William V. Mong (Henry)  
    Edgar Kennedy (Buffington)  
    Wade Boteler (Monk)  
    Al Herman (Pearson)  
    Robert Keith (Prof)  
    Mike Donlin    
    Gladden James    
    George Byron    
    Harold Goodwin    

Summary: When Helen King accepts Steve Carlyle's marriage proposal, she is unaware that he is a lawyer for a ring of gangsters headed by the despotic, eccentric Goldie Gorio. Although he tries to break free of his underworld connections, Steve is forced with violent threats to continue, and then learns that Helen's wealthy brother Mark is the head of a rival gang. In hopes of impressing the beautiful Helen, who knows nothing of Mark's illegal activites, Gorio first bankrolls a lavish wedding, then buys the newlyweds a luxurious Manhattan apartment and other extravagances. In time, Helen grows suspicious of Steve's business associates and dealings, but Steve, wanting to protect her, denies any wrongdoing. Gorio, meanwhile, aware that McBaine, a United States Marshal, is watching his illegal fleet of boats and is waiting for a chance to kill him, sets up Steve by sending him to the docks. During the police raid, Steve is seriously wounded, and Helen, finally understanding that she is a gangster's sister and wife, vows to save her husband from Gorio's lethal web. Gorio senses that his territory is being threatened by his rival and cold-bloodedly executes Mark and his gang. He then flirts openly with Helen, who feigns interest and agrees to meet him at his apartment. At the same time, Steve drags himself from his hospital bed and heads for Gorio's hideout, also armed. After a fierce machine gun battle between Gorio's gang and the police, Helen kills Gorio in Steve's presence, at last liberating her husband from his criminal past. 

Production Company: RKO Pathé Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Pathé Distributing Corp.  
Director: Tay Garnett (Dir)
Producer: Charles R. Rogers (Prod)
  Harry Joe Brown (Assoc prod)
Writer: Tom Buckingham (Scr and dial)
  Tay Garnett Scr and dial (Scr)
Photography: Arthur Miller (Photog)
Art Direction: Carroll Clark (Art dir)
Film Editor: Claude Berkeley (Film ed)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Cost)
Music: Arthur Lange (Mus dir)
Sound: Earl A. Wolcott (Rec eng)
  John C. Grubb (Rec eng)
Country: United States

Source Text: Suggested by the novel Put on the Spot by Jack Lait (New York, 1930).
Authors: Jack Lait

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
RKO Pathé Distributing Corp. 2/10/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2518 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Photophone System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Gangster
Subjects (Major): Duplicity
Subjects (Minor): Boats
  Brothers and sisters
  Gunshot wounds
  United States. Marshals

Note: The working titles of this film were The Gangster's Wife and The Mad Marriage . FD reported in Feb 1931 that Lily Damita was to co-star in the picture with Ricardo Cortez and Harry Joe Brown was to direct. Al Herman, a well-known blackface comic, made his sound film debut in the film, according to a FD news item. FD production news items list James Eagles and Fred Kohler, Jr. in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to an RKO inter-office memo, Will H. Hays, President of the MPPDA, recommended to the studio that, in order to avoid censorship problems, the criminal aspect of the Steve Carlyle character be strongly down played and that he not be shown carrying a gun until the final scenes, so that the film would not be "glorifying the gangster." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   9 Feb 31   p. 6.
Film Daily   10 Jun 31   p. 7.
Film Daily   15 Jun 31   p. 4.
Film Daily   4 Aug 31   p. 8.
Film Daily   8 Nov 31   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 31   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   12 Sep 31   p. 26.
Motion Picture Herald   14 Nov 31   p. 76.
New York Times   7 Nov 31   p. 16.
Variety   10 Nov 31   p. 23.

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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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