The Shakedown

The Shakedown

A FILM BY: William Wyler
WRITTEN BY: Charles Logue (story), Clarence Marks (adaptation), Albert DeMond (dialogue)
STARRING: James Murray, Barbara Kent, George Kotsonaros

Live Musical Accompaniment by House Organist Dennis Scott | Presented by Chicago Film Society 

In the 1920s Universal Pictures promoted its expensive films as “Jewels” and termed its very expensive ones “Super Jewels,” but everything else from the studio that wasn’t so designated may as well have fallen off a truck. If only every Universal release aspired to the panache and pluck of The Shakedown, a low-budget picture from a generic script that nevertheless delivers an emotional knockout. It’s also a terrifically dynamic showcase for William Wyler, who had hitherto been churning out made-to-order Westerns for the studio.  James Murray stars as a young man who’s fallen in with a band of grifters who ramble from town to town, milking the locals by taking bets on rigged boxing matches. If hash house cashier Barbara Kent and railyard urchin Jack Hanlon aren’t reason enough to settle down, they nevertheless provide sufficient inspiration for Murray to turn the tables on his comrades. Murray and Kent starred, respectively, in The Crowd and Lonesome the previous year, and The Shakedown stands beside those films as an unassuming account of working-class life. Originally released in silent and “half-talkie” editions, both versions of The Shakedown were presumed lost until the former miraculously turned up at Cinefest, the film collector convention in Syracuse, New York, in the late 1990s. This 35mm copy is an optical blow-up from that sole surviving Universal Show-at-Home 16mm print. 35mm Print Courtesy of Universal

Preceded by: TBD

Technical Information

Run Time: 65 mins