Cast & Crew
D. Ross Lederman
John Vickery, a prominent attorney distraught over his separation from his wife of ten years, Muriel, goes to a bar to have a drink. At the bar John meets Flo Russell, a young woman pursued by police, and agrees to allow her to hide in his apartment. When Flo leaves, she tells John that Muriel was a fool and advises him to obtain a quick divorce. But John is despondent, however, and when he begins to lose cases, his drinking increases. One evening, in a drunken stupor, John meets Flo again at the Alamo Club where she works as a hat check girl. Flo takes John in and her boss, Red McLarnen, who is in love with her, helps by renting him an apartment and seeing to his medical care. Mike Magellon, a former partner of Red before he quit the rackets, is freed from jail and he promptly forces Red into using his establishment as a hideout for his gang. John persuades Red to go to the police, who then wait for Magellon and his men when they abduct J. G. Osborne. Magellon gets away, however, and threatens Red with revenge. Meanwhile, John has opened a new law office to help his poor neighbors. After a month of having G-men as bodyguards, Red fires them in a fit of jealousy, because he believes John wants to keep him from Flo. Red hires a new waiter, Olsen, who is Magellon's henchman. Olsen arranges for Magellon to shoot Red, and Flo is framed for the crime. John is suspicious of Olsen but at Flo's trial, he fails to crack his testimony and Flo is found guilty. After Flo and John exchange vows of love, John decides to go after Magellon, and obtains the cooperation of the beggars and street people whom he has assisted. Belle, an ex-girl friend of Magellon, takes him to a fortune teller and tricks him into handing over his gun. The gun is replaced with a gun loaded with blanks. Magellon sees Olsen in John's office and shoots him, but is instantly surrounded. Magellon tries to pin Red's murder on Olsen, whereupon John reveals that Olsen is still alive. Olsen is killed when he falls down a staircase while attempting to escape. Magellon's confession frees Flo and, as John escorts her from prison, she looks forward to being his wife.
D. Ross Lederman
Mary Lou Dix
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).
Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).
After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).
It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.
Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.
by Michael T. Toole
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
The working title of this film was San Francisco Nights.