AFRAID TO TALK. Universal, 1932. Sidney Fox, Eric Linden, Louis Calhern, Tully Marshall, Edward Arnold, George Meeker, Berton Churchill, Robert Warwick, Frank Sheridan, Mayo Methot, Matt McHugh, Thomas Jackson, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Joyce Compton, George Chandler, Arthur Housman, King Baggot, Walter Brennan, Margaret Lindsay. Screenplay by Tom Reed, based on the play Merry Go Round by Albert Maltz and George Sklar. Photography: Karl Freund; editor: Milton Carruth; art direction: Charles D. Hall and Edgar G. Ulmer. Director: Edward L. Cahn. Shown at Cinecon 45, Hollywood CA, September 2009.

   This superbly crafted crime thriller hit the Saturday evening audience with all the force of a speeding train and never let up in its character-driven 69 minute drive.

   Eric Linden and Sidney Fox, popular young players of the time, are the titular stars, with Linden the witness to a gangland killing who, after being promised immunity for his testimony, is framed by a corrupt Assistant D. A. (Louis Calhern).

   There’s not a weak link in the cast, but Calhern, a smooth career politician with not a shred of morality, gives an unforgettable performance. And the final, ironic scene undercuts any sense that the era of corrupt politics is finally over.