Buy Me That Town


1h 10m 1941

Brief Synopsis

With the gang business washed up, Ricky Dean (Lloyd Nolan), suave first lieutenant to racketeer Chink Moran (Sheldon Leonard), and Louie Lanzer (Albert Dekker), a has-been fighter with itchy fingers, decide to take a peaceful vacation in the country. They are followed by three hard-boiled characters, Fingers (Horace MacMahon), Ziggy (Edward Brophy) and Crusher (Warren Hymer). Ricky, thinking they are to be rubbed out for deserting Chink, who has been drafted into the Army, stops his car and confronts them. But they merely want to ask Ricky to be their new boss. He declines but promises to call them sometime if the need arises. They are speeding through a Connecticut village and are stopped by yokel Constable Sam Smedley (Olin Howlin as Olin Howland). Judge Paradise (Richard Carle), with his daughter Virginia (Constance Moore) as court clerk, fines them $5.00 each, plus $37 costs - or 30 days in jail. They, while waiting to hear from Jimmy's lawyer, are taken to the cells and are amazed to find the tumbledown jail wide open, with prisoners walking in and out. The door won't lock. The judge explains to Jimmy that Middle Village is unincorporated and broke, its sole income being traffic fines. The town's bonds, for everything from the houses to the village pump, are owned in New York. He also adds that anyone in jail in an unincorporated village is safe from the outside law - Federal,State and City. Ricky, fine paid, hustles back to New York and buys the town bonds for $40,000. Back in Middle Village, Ricky starts the ball rolling;he retains Judge Paradise, sends for Fingers, Ziggy and Crusher, and renovates the jail into a luxurious club. His lawyer then starts a stream of "customers on the lam" who pay $1000 a week for the comfort and protection of the Middle Village Jail. New fire chief Crusher, police chief Ziggy and the others board with Henrietta (Barbara Jo Allen), a maiden lady with aspirations of becoming a gun moll. She also startles them with her collection of wanted posters, their pictures among them. Louie and Henrietta fall for each other. Virginia, in love with Ricky, tries to talk him into doing big things for the town, such as reopening its one-and-only factory. Ricky agrees when the Army offers a defense contract for shell casings. Meanwhile, Chink has gotten out of the Army and buys Louie's half interest in Middle Village. He tells the "boys" they are suckers for letting Ricky spend the jail "take" on civic improvements and he plans to wreck the factory deal.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 3, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,260ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

When gangster boss Chink Moran is drafted, his confederates Rickey Deane, "the brains," and Louie Lanzer, "the brawn," decide to retire from racketeering for a while. They are soon pulled over for a speeding violation in the unincorporated town of Middle Village, however, and when the judge fines them an outrageous amount of money, they refuse to pay and are thrown in jail. Judge Paradise, who runs the jail as a boardinghouse, explains that he set the exorbitant fine because the town is bankrupt. Rickey and Louie buy the town as equal partners and bring in the rest of Chink's former thugs to run the town: Ziggy, a criminal, becomes the chief of police; Crusher Howard, an arsonist, becomes the fire chief; Fingers Flint becomes the city engineer; and Louie becomes the business manager. The gangsters board at the home of crime fan Henrietta Teagarden, who has ardently followed their careers through newspaper articles. Rickey sets up the jail as a first-class luxury hideout for fugitives and reaps $1,000 per person, per week for the accommodations. The judge's beautiful daughter Virginia threatens to warn the FBI of Rickey's nefarious activities if he does not reopen the town factory and hire the citizens. When Crusher burns a building just so he can try out his new fire truck, Rickey invests his money into rebuilding and spruces up the town, and the racketeers slowly reform into leading an honest life. Some time later, Chink works his way out of the army and comes to Middle Village to take over the operations. Chink buys Louie out after playing on his dissatisfaction with regular life. The racketeers panic when government officials arrive in town, but the agents are only interested in reopening the factory to manufacture gas masks for the war effort. Rickey is disappointed by Louie's disloyalty, and Chink, who refuses to reopen the factory for legitimate business, decides to burn the place down. Louie tries to redeem himself by buying Chink out, but Chink refuses, and after he starts a fire at the factory building, he and Louie exchange gunfire. Louie wounds Chink, who then gets caught in a machine. Rickey and Louie keep Chink trapped in the machine as the fire burns closer until he agrees to sell back his half of the town. Ziggy arrests Chink for arson, and Rickey promises Virginia that he will discontinue using the jail as a hotel for fugitives. Louie insists that Rickey pay him back for his disloyalty, so, after Rickey breaks his hand on Louie's face, he and Virginia marry.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 3, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,260ft (7 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Stanley David and Marion Fisher were added to work on the script during production, but it is not known if any of their work was included in the film. This was the first film effort for theatre executive Harry A. Gourfain, New York reporter Murray Boltinoff and Martin Rackin. Twentieth Century-Fox loaned actor Sheldon Leonard to Paramount for the production. Contemporary news items reported that Preston Foster, Brian Donlevy, Akim Tamiroff and Mary Astor were considered for lead roles in the picture.