AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Fall Guy
Director: Leslie Pearce (Dir)
Release Date:   15 Jun 1930
Duration (in mins):   66
Duration (in feet):   6,175
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Jack Mulhall (Johnny Quinlan)  
    Mae Clarke (Bertha Quinlan)  
    Ned Sparks (Dan Walsh)  
    Wynne Gibson (Lottie Quinlan)  
    Pat O'Malley (Charles Newton)  
    Thomas E. Jackson (Frederick "Nifty" Herman, also known as "Kilpapa")  
    Tom Kennedy (Detective Burke)  
    Alan Roscoe (Detective Keefe)  
    James Donlan    
    Ann Brody (Mrs. Bercowich)  
    Elmer Ballard ("Hutch")  

Summary: Johnny Quinlan heads a household that includes his wife Bertha, his sister, Lottie, and Bertha's brother, Dan Walsh, an unemployed, aspiring saxophone player. When Johnny loses his job as a drugstore clerk, he is afraid to tell the loving, but practical Bertha, and scours the city to find a new job. Bertha soon finds out, though, and despite having some savings, the family's bills begin to mount while Johnny remains unemployed. One day, Frederick "Nifty" Herman, an acquaintance of Johnny, who runs a florist's shop as a front for his drug dealing but whom Johnny believes is a bootlegger, loans Johnny fifteen dollars and offers him a job. Knowing that Bertha would not like him to work as a bootlegger, Johnny turns Nifty down. Despite weeks of unemployment, Johnny is insulted when he returns home one day and Bertha insists on asking their neighbor, Mrs. Bercowich, to ask her husband to give Johnny a job cleaning fish. When Nifty later tells Johnny that a man named Kilpapa, who owns a chain of drugstores, wants to hire Johnny to manage one of his stores, but first needs him to keep a suitcase of "high class" liquor safe for a short time, Johnny agrees. He then takes the suitcase home, but Bertha is suspicious, and he reluctantly admits that it belongs to Nifty. Fearful that association with Nifty and his friends will eventually turn Johnny into a criminal, too, Bertha threatens to leave him unless he takes the suitcase back. Johnny then attempts to return it but the flower shop is closed and he has no other choice than to bring it back to the apartment. Although Johnny hides the suitcase under a chair, Lottie accidentally discovers it while the family is having dinner with Charles Newton, Lottie's boss and sweetheart. Newton, who is a government agent, recognizes the suitcase as one that he and his men have been trailing in their pursuit of a narcotics gang. Johnny, who has always hated drug dealers, is furious when the suitcase is opened and he sees that, instead of “hooch,” it contains narcotics, but Newton has no other choice but to arrest him. However, before they leave the apartment, Nifty arrives, and Johnny devises a plan to have Newton and his detectives, Keefe and Burke, secretly listen as Johnny tricks Nifty into revealing that Johnny was unaware of the true contents of the suitcase. When Nifty also reveals that he himself is Kilpapa, Johnny knocks him down, after which Newton, Keefe and Burke arrest Nifty and take him away. Impressed with Johnny's quick action, Newton then offers him a job and proposes to Lottie, who happily accepts. 

Production Company: RKO Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Leslie Pearce (Dir)
Producer: William LeBaron (Prod)
  William Sistrom (Assoc prod)
Writer: Tim Whelan (Scr)
Photography: Leo Tover (Photog)
Art Direction: Max Rée (Art dir)
Film Editor: Archie F. Marshek (Film ed)
Sound: George Ellis (Rec)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the play The Fall Guy by George Abbott and James Gleason (New York, 10 Mar 1925).
Authors: George Abbott
  James Gleason

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
RKO Productions, Inc. 15/6/1930 dd/mm/yyyy LP1397 Yes

Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Photophone

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
Subjects (Major): Dismissal (Employment)
  Drug dealers
  Financial crisis
Subjects (Minor): Bootleggers
  False accusations
  Government agents
  Installment plans


Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   25 May 1930.   
Los Angeles Times   27 Jun 1930.   
New York Times   27 May 1930   p. 27.
Variety   28 May 1930   p. 35.

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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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