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1942 comedy "Larceny, Inc." is BYU film series offering July 21

The Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series at Brigham Young University will show “Larceny, Inc.” Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m. in the Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium.

Admission is free and the public is invited, but seating is limited, so early arrival is recommended. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and no food or drink is allowed in the auditorium.

This 1942 comedy is a send-up of the gangster image created, in large part, by Edward G. Robinson, beginning with his portrayal of Caesar Enrico Bandello in the 1930 hit “Little Caesar.”

“Censorship concerns by the Hayes Office in 1934 virtually eliminated the making of the kind of violent gangster films of the early 1930s,” says James D’Arc, curator of the Special Collections Motion Picture Archives and director of the film series.

“Therefore, in the latter part of the decade, Robinson and James Cagney portrayed characters on the side of the law or, as in ‘Larceny, Inc.,’ spoofs of their early gangland images,” he said.

In “Larceny, Inc.,” Robinson is “Pressure” Maxwell, who, on his release from Sing-Sing prison, becomes J. Chalmers Maxwell, and with fellow ex-cons tries to go legit by operating a luggage store-next to a bank.

Completing the time-honored cast are actors Broderick Crawford, Jane Wyman, Jack Carson, Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason more than a decade before he made television history in “The Honeymooners.”

“Mr. Robinson,” wrote critic Bosley Crowther in the New York Times, “as usual, is a hard-boiled egg. The principal joy is to watch him.”

The screening of “Larceny, Inc.” is part of the ongoing Special Collections Motion Picture Archives Film Series, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library and Dennis and Linda Gibson. The motion pictures shown in the series are from the permanent holdings in the library’s large film collection.

A complete schedule of showings may be accessed online at

Writer: James McCoy

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