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Framed (1930)

This early RKO Radio Pictures sound film was an attempt to cash in on the vogue for underworld tales prior to the sea change in the subgenre post-Public Enemy and Little Caesar (both 1931). Evelyn Brent, who had played a gangster's moll in Josef von Sternberg's Underworld (1927), takes top billing here as the embittered daughter of a slain racketeer who plots revenge against the copper responsible. More melodrama than gangster picture, Framed (1930) charts the softening of Brent's resolve as she falls for the cop's son (Regis Toomey) and incurs the wrath of her bootlegger paramour (Ralf Harolde). Though she had weathered the transition from silent to talking films, Brent was nearing the end of her popularity with moviegoers and the ensuing years would see her popping up in such programmers as Jungle Jim (1937) and Mr. Wong, Detective (1938); one of her last film roles was as an icy, one-armed Satanist in the Val Lewton produced The Seventh Victim (1943). Framed was photographed by Leo Tover, whose later triumphs include The Snake Pit (1948), The Heiress (1949), and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1950). Caveat emptor: the William Holden who appears as Toomey's policeman father is not, of course, the William Holden of Sunset Blvd. (1950) and The Wild Bunch (who was born William Beedle, Jr.) but rather another American actor whose death in 1932 left that particular stage name up for grabs.

By Richard Harland Smith

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