The Secret Six (1931)

80 or 83 mins | Drama | 18 April 1931

Director:

George Hill

Writer:

Frances Marion

Producer:

Irving Thalberg

Cinematographer:

Harold Wenstrom

Editor:

Blanche Sewell

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to the Var review, many elements of this film are traceable to actual gangster activities of the time. The review notes that Chicago and Cicero, Illinois, are clearly indicated in the film, and that the "Joe Colimo" character recalls a real-life Chicago joint operator who was murdered some years earlier. According to a biography of Irving Thalberg, the producer initially cast Clark Gable in a small role, but as filming progressed new scenes were added to bolster his part. The result was a screen presence three times longer than that called for in the original script. Some modern source plot summaries erroneously claim that the film concludes with Newton killing Scorpio, when in fact Scorpio is imprisoned in the end. According to Ralph Bellamy's autobiography, The Secret Six , his first film, was based on a true story. The autobiography also notes that Clark Gable received his M-G-M contract as a result of his performance in this film. In a filmography in the biographical file for Edgar G. Ulmer at the AMPAS Library, he is listed as production designer for this ... More Less

According to the Var review, many elements of this film are traceable to actual gangster activities of the time. The review notes that Chicago and Cicero, Illinois, are clearly indicated in the film, and that the "Joe Colimo" character recalls a real-life Chicago joint operator who was murdered some years earlier. According to a biography of Irving Thalberg, the producer initially cast Clark Gable in a small role, but as filming progressed new scenes were added to bolster his part. The result was a screen presence three times longer than that called for in the original script. Some modern source plot summaries erroneously claim that the film concludes with Newton killing Scorpio, when in fact Scorpio is imprisoned in the end. According to Ralph Bellamy's autobiography, The Secret Six , his first film, was based on a true story. The autobiography also notes that Clark Gable received his M-G-M contract as a result of his performance in this film. In a filmography in the biographical file for Edgar G. Ulmer at the AMPAS Library, he is listed as production designer for this film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
3 May 31
p. 30.
HF
3 Jan 31
p. 32.
HF
31 Jan 31
p. 24.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Apr 31
p. 40.
New York Times
2 May 31
p. 23.
Variety
6 May 31
p. 22.
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 April 1931
Production Date:
early January--early February 1931
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 April 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2160
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 83
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

During the Prohibition era, Louis Scorpio, a stockyard worker in the small town of Centro, is recruited by bootleggers Nick Mizoski and Johnny Franks. Nick, also known as The Gouger, and Johnny entice Scorpio with promises of easy profits, and then give him a tour of their distillery. After Newton, the bootleggers' boss, divides the gang's most recent profits, he informs his men that he plans to muscle in on bootlegger Joe Colimo's territory as their next job. When Colimo learns that Johnny and his henchmen are trying to force a bartender working in his territory to buy his liquor from them, he sends Eddie, one of his gunmen, to take care of the matter. A shootout ensues, which results in the killing of Colimo's brother, whom he was trying keep out of the mob. Johnny and Scorpio flee to Newton's, and when Colimo comes looking for his brother's killer, Scorpio is set up to take the rap for the murder. The Colimo mob shoots but only slightly wounds Scorpio, who soon realizes that he was set up, and returns to Newton's to take revenge on Johnny. Scorpio shoots Johnny and considers shooting Newton, but the police burst in and he escapes. Peaches, a Newton moll, becomes hysterical when she sees Johnny dead. Meanwhile, reporters Carl and Hank arrive on the scene and compete for the murder story while also vying for the attentions of Anne Courtland, another Newton moll. Anne is later hired by Scorpio to keep the reporters off the gangsters' trail. Once Scorpio gains a position of power in the bootlegging racket, he orchestrates Mizoski's Centro mayoral election ... +


During the Prohibition era, Louis Scorpio, a stockyard worker in the small town of Centro, is recruited by bootleggers Nick Mizoski and Johnny Franks. Nick, also known as The Gouger, and Johnny entice Scorpio with promises of easy profits, and then give him a tour of their distillery. After Newton, the bootleggers' boss, divides the gang's most recent profits, he informs his men that he plans to muscle in on bootlegger Joe Colimo's territory as their next job. When Colimo learns that Johnny and his henchmen are trying to force a bartender working in his territory to buy his liquor from them, he sends Eddie, one of his gunmen, to take care of the matter. A shootout ensues, which results in the killing of Colimo's brother, whom he was trying keep out of the mob. Johnny and Scorpio flee to Newton's, and when Colimo comes looking for his brother's killer, Scorpio is set up to take the rap for the murder. The Colimo mob shoots but only slightly wounds Scorpio, who soon realizes that he was set up, and returns to Newton's to take revenge on Johnny. Scorpio shoots Johnny and considers shooting Newton, but the police burst in and he escapes. Peaches, a Newton moll, becomes hysterical when she sees Johnny dead. Meanwhile, reporters Carl and Hank arrive on the scene and compete for the murder story while also vying for the attentions of Anne Courtland, another Newton moll. Anne is later hired by Scorpio to keep the reporters off the gangsters' trail. Once Scorpio gains a position of power in the bootlegging racket, he orchestrates Mizoski's Centro mayoral election victory. Soon after the new chief of police takes office, he promises to avenge his son's murder by running the hoodlums out of town, and Mizoski fires him from the force. After Colimo is killed, Scorpio sets his sights on the big city. In response to the arrival of Scorpio's gang, a special police force is created, which calls itself the "Secret Six," comprised of six masked men representing the "greatest force of law and order in the U.S." The force commmissions Carl to gather evidence against Scorpio and the mob, but he is instructed to wait until all the gangsters are in town before making any arrests. When Anne discovers a plot to kill Hank, she runs onto a subway car to warn him, but is too late. As soon as she tells Hank that she loves him, the lights on the train go out and a shot kills him. Later, Scorpio is jailed, and Metz, one of the distillery lackeys thought to be a deaf-mute, cracks under police pressure and gives the needed testimony to convict Scorpio. At Scorpio's trial, Anne testifies that she heard Scorpio threaten to kill Hank. Scorpio, however, bribes the jury and buys his not guilty verdict, which the judge angrily calls a miscarriage of justice. Following Scorpio's trial, police close in on him, and a shootout at Frank's Steak House ensues. Scorpio kills Newton for his money and then seeks refuge at Peaches', but she double-crosses him and turns him over to the police. Scorpio and his men are soon imprisoned and condemned to death row. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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