Entertaining crime drama. The action sequences are great–realistic chases and shootouts. Jean Harlow (as Daisy) smoothly combines snappy toughness with alluring femininity. The police brothers (Wallace Ford and Walter Huston) make an a convincing pair. And the gangster Belamonte (Jean Hersholt) is suitably slimy. Beast of the City is let down somewhat by a few too many comic interludes, which not only disturb the tone, but logjam the pacing as well.
Tbe droll, dark humor amongst the cops, and especially between Daisy and Ed (Ford) adds plenty of period authenticity, and keeps the plot humming along as well. It”s Ed’s domestic scenes that distract. Some of that stuff is funny; but it’s a bit much in what is essentially a serious pre-noir drama. If that theme needs any emphasis it’s certainly provided by Ed’s sacrifice in the climactic gunbattle with Belamonte’s gang.
The courtroom scene sets up Ed’s desperate need to atone for his negligence. The social commentary isn’t intrusive; in fact, I think it helps to deglamorize the
criminals–the “yellow maggot” description being especially apt–as well as keep the spotlight on police corruption. Ultimately, the belief in legitimate authority is upheld by the fearless, even reckless behavior of the police shown in their determination to overcome the criminals. 7/10.