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The Barbary Coast

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Craig Butler
The Barbary Coast is not a great movie, but it's one with a lot of energy and snap in it, and that may be enough for many viewers to overlook its flaws. Ascribe to writers Ben Hecht and Chales MacArthur many of its delights as well as many of its flaws. Coast abounds with the one-two punch dialogue that is the scriptwriting team's hallmark. It's got a spice to it, and a flair, and even if it doesn't necessarily sound right for the period, it's awfully hard to resist. Certainly, the actors seem to savor it, wrapping their tongues around the dialogue and spitting it out with gusto and relish. And a lot of that dialogue accompanies an interesting story about a woman who arrives in a corrupt town only to discover that her fiancé is dead and she has to decide how corrupt she will allow herself to be to survive. Unfortunately, it also has another story to tell, that of this same woman falling for a decent, poetic man -- and here it runs aground. Director Howard Hawks works as much of his magic as he can on the piece, but it's clear his sympathies lie with the more raucous, lively, raffish half of the picture. And with Edward G. Robinson on hand to lead that part of the story, who can blame him? As the bastion of the "good" side of the story, Joel McCrea is fine, but no competition for Robinson. Straddling both halves, Miriam Hopkins is delightful. Not a total winner, Coast is still worth catching. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi
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