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It might have been a musical had the studio not done an abrupt about-face on the genre and excised all the songs. Or funnier if director Edward Cline (Million Dollar Legs, The Bank Dick) stayed true to his knack for comedy. Or a career uptick for early-talkie cutie Alice White had it shown her to greater advantage. But the pre-Code crime caper The Widow from Chicago is historic as Edward G. Robinsons first movie at Warner Bros. (First National, to be precise), and the ferocity, intelligence and charisma that would fuel his work as a gangster and character-actor supreme are on splendid display. White plays the vengeful sister of a detective killed while posing as a Chicago gangster in order to infiltrate the mob run by kingpin Dominic (Robinson). When the real Windy City hood (Neil Hamilton) shows up, she finds that bringing down her brothers murderer requires teamwork. And -- hold the phone -- some fast thinking. Dominic may fall, but two months later came the electrifying arrival of Little Caesar, and Robinsons tough-guy stardom would be sealed.

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WAA422240 Widow From Chicago, The DVD (1930/Edward G Robinson) $19.98