You just know Edward G.Robinson jumped at the role of gangster Remy Marco in this spoof of his earlier crime roles. Based on a play by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay, A Slight Case of Murder has a lot going for it – it’s a slapstick comedy which moves along at a clip and is littered with great comedy actors.
Audiences of 1938 must have done a double take at the antics of the usually very dangerous Robinson as he laughs his way through the story of a bootlegger who isn’t fazed by the end of prohibition. He goes ‘legit’ and still sells his beer called Gold Velvet.
Ruth Donnelly is a joy as his wife who, like him, wants a bit of class, but it isn’t easy. She says,”Imagine us being legitimate after all these years!”
Marco makes the change clear to his not so bright gang, “This aint no still anymore ,it’s a brewery.” and “Take out the artillery.” – his men bring out all their guns as Marco tells them they don’t need them any more.
He oozes confidence, “I’m all ready for this new set-up.”
What Marco doesn’t know ( he never drinks beer) is that nobody likes his beer. At a bar we hear a customer say,”Anything but Gold Velvet.”
Allen Jenkins,Ed Brophy and Harold Huber make a great trio of Marco’s henchmen. Jane Bryan has a small role as Marco’s daughter and Margaret Hamilton has a couple of scenes as the matron of the orphanage Marco grew up in.
Actually, Robinson had played a very similar role in 1933, in The Little Giant,also a comedy. I haven’t seen that one.
Most of the cast at the end of the film. Don’t worry, Willard Parker ( as Jane Bryan’s boyfriend) isn’t dead!