Set in Chicago when prohibition is repealed,Bugs Ahearn (Edward G Robinson) runs the Little Giant Social Club.
Bugs wastes no time in telling his gang, “It’s all over,boys.We’re washed up.” He pays them off and says he’s getting out, “No more mob, no more syndicate.I’m gonna linger with the upper classes. I’m gonna be a gentleman.I’ve got a million and a quarter salted away. I came from the gutter but I’m stepping right out of it.”
His pal,Al (Russell Hopton) whom he’s known since reform school, thinks he’s leaving him behind too. Al says,”What are you gonna talk about – machine guns and beer?”
But Bugs has been reading – Plato’s Republic no less. He smirks at Al, “Bet you thought Plato was a waiter!”
Bugs wastes no time, buying modern art,practising golf – and humming grand opera!
He decides to move to Santa Barbara and takes Al along. His gang see him off at the station and present him with a dictionary.
They check into a hotel which is $45 a day. Bugs puts on taps,electric lights,has baths and showers – as he says, for that money, “They aint gonna make a chump out of me.”
Bugs meets the snooty Polly Cass (Helen Vinson) at the hotel and falls for her. Once she finds out he is rich, she introduces him to her parents and brother who are upper class but poor and unscrupulous.
Bugs tells them he is buying a house, (and finally almost half way through the film, we meet Mary Astor (as Ruth). Ruth is the realtor who shows him this big house which he leases,telling her he needs a housekeeper,cook, 2 butlers and a couple of chauffeurs. He offers Ruth $100 a week to help him get settled and into society.
It turns out Ruth owns the house and needs the rent to pay back taxes. Ruth helps him arrange a house warming party, and of course,Polly and her family are there.
Polly suggests he take up polo and he tries it. Polly’s brother makes fun of him – “He swings like an old lady beating a carpet.”
He confides in Ruth how much he likes Polly, not realising Ruth is getting to like him a lot. He even shows Ruth the ring he has bought for Polly.Then he asks Ruth if he can practice proposing – “Look here,honey,the first time I got a gander at you…. maybe I could put it all in a telegram.”
Polly has a boyfriend on the side and tells him she’ll only live with Bugs long enough to get alimony.
Bugs ends up ploughing money into Polly’s father’s banking business and is swindled by the crooked banker. But he calls his gang out from Chicago and all is resolved. Ruth admits her father was swindled by the family too.
Bugs realises Ruth is the girl for him!
This is a great comedy and Edward G. seems to be in every scene. He is so full of energy, and is well supported by Mary Astor, Helen Vinson and Russell Hopton.
His character, Bugs Ahearn, is very similar to the role of Remy Marko which Edward G. played in A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER.