Monday, August 29, 2016

Alabama Book Covers (14): Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles

Have you been wondering about a book cover that combines Alabama, author Ray Bradbury and Mars? Well, so have I and here it is below. 

This post is another in a series that highlights tenuous connections to our state. You can see two others here and here. There are and will be more; they're fun to do.

In his long and prolific career Bradbury wrote such classic novels as Farenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He also wrote numerous short stories that have filled many collections. Bradbury died in 2012, and one of his many honors occurred that year. NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars, and the site was named Bradbury Landing.

Bradbury's first novel The Martian Chronicles appeared in 1950 and consisted of short stories published in the late 1940's that he wove together with new material. Earth has become so troubled that colonization of Mars has begun. Conflict develops between the human arrivals and the indigenous Martian population. Sound familiar?

Among other adaptations, the book has appeared on radio and the opera stage. In January 1980 a television adaptation with Rock Hudson and other stars appeared on NBC over three nights. Bradbury called it "just boring". I remember enjoying it, but haven't seen it in a long time.  

The Bantam paperback edition below is the first one issued by that publisher; others would follow until at least 1980. And there's "Alabama", sandwiched between Ohio and California.....






New York: Bantam, 1951 






Source: Wikipedia 



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dr. Justina Ford at Alabama A&M and Beyond







Ford, Justina Laurena Carter (22 Jan. 1871-14 Oct. 1952), physician, was born in Knoxville, Illinois, and grew up in Galesburg in the west central part of the state. She was the seventh child in the family, and her mother is reputed to have been a nurse. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, her father was born in Kentucky and her mother in Tennessee

In a profile published in Negro Digest two years before her death, Ford declared a very early interest in medicine. “I wouldn’t play with others unless we played hospital, and I wouldn’t play even that unless they let me be the doctor. I didn’t know the names of any medicines…” (quoted in Harris, 42) She also remembered liking to prepare chickens for meals in order to see their insides and visiting sick neighbors to help them. Ford grew up to pursue that childhood interest in medicine and became the second African-American female physician in Alabama and the first in Colorado.

            Little else is known of Ford’s early life. Ford attended Hering Medical College in Chicago, one of several schools in the U.S. (others are known in St. Louis, Missouri, and Fort Wayne, Indiana) named after the German immigrant Constantine Hering (1800-1880), who is often called the “father of American homeopathy.”  She graduated in 1899. 

By that time about twenty percent of physicians in the United States were graduates of homeopathic schools. Almost 1600 black physicians were practicing in the U.S. at the time; fewer than 200 were women. The first female African American physician in the U.S., Rebecca Lee Crumpler, had graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864.

            In Ford’s 1900 U.S. Census record, enumerated on June 7, she is listed in Chicago’s 4th Ward as one of six residents of a boarding house.  Also listed is John E. Ford, 39, a clergyman born in Kentucky, as were both his parents. This man is presumably Ford’s first husband; how they met and what eventually happened to him is currently unknown. 

Sometime later that year Ford traveled south to Alabama to take the state’s medical certification exam. Why she picked such a distant southern state to begin her practice remains a mystery, although the presence of Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee Institute may have been factors. Washington had recruited Dr. Cornelius N. Dorsette to set up practice in the state capitol of Montgomery in 1884 as one of Alabama’s earliest black physicians. In 1891 Washington persuaded Dr. Halle Tanner Dillon to come to the state and serve as the resident physician for Tuskegee Institute’s faculty and students; she remained in that post until 1894. When she passed her grueling medical certification exam in August, 1891, she became the first female physician of any race to be certified in Alabama.

            Instead of Tuskegee, Ford settled in Normal, just outside the city of Huntsville in north Alabama. Normal was the site of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, a land-grant school founded in 1875. She was certified to practice medicine after passing the test administered by the Madison County Board of Medical Examiners sometime after the census count in Chicago in June, 1900, and before March 31, 1901; she is listed in the 1901 Transactions of the state medical society as a successful candidate. Joining some 55 black physicians in Alabama, she apparently became the college’s resident physician. The archives at what is now known as Alabama A&M University seems to have only one item related to Ford, a “sick list” dated December 30 and 31, 1902, giving the names of people she vaccinated.

            About this time Ford decided to move her practice elsewhere and chose Denver, Colorado. She may have hoped a black female physician would have better opportunities in the West rather than the Jim Crow South, where even male black physicians could have difficulties developing a practice.

            Ford’s decision proved to be the right one for her. In a career that lasted more than four decades, she built a formidable reputation for her skills in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics. Ford remained a distinct minority, however. In 1950, two years before her death, only seven black doctors were active in Colorado; she was the only woman among them. She still had to overcome discrimination; for most of her years in practice black physicians and patients were not allowed at Denver General Hospital. Toward the end of her career she did receive admitting privileges at the hospital and membership in the Denver and Colorado medical societies.

            As Ford’s practice in Denver began, she traveled to patients’ homes by horse and buggy and then bicycle. Later she bought a car and hired a driver; Ford herself never learned to drive an automobile. She also used taxis to reach her patients, who lived both in the city and in often difficult to reach rural areas. In addition to fellow blacks, Ford treated poor whites, Mexicans, Greeks, Koreans, Hindus, Japanese and any others who sought care from her in that diverse western town. She accepted whatever patients could pay in cash or goods and claimed to have delivered 7000 babies (only 15% black!) in her long career.

            Whether Ford’s first husband accompanied her to Alabama and Colorado is currently unknown. She is known to have married Alfred Allen after her arrival in Denver, but she retained the name by which she was so well-known. Her religious home in Denver was the Zion Baptist Church. Early in her career Ford bought a nine-room house at 2335 Arapahoe Street, where she lived until her death. Although in later years she began to lose her sight, Ford treated patients until just weeks before she died. She was survived by her husband; the pair had no children.





            Shortly before her death, Ford was given the Human Relations Award by the Cosmopolitan Club of Denver. That award, plus her admission to the Denver and Colorado medical societies in 1950 meant that Ford received some recognition in her lifetime for her long career of patient care and self-sacrifice.

            Other recognitions have come since her death. In 1975 the Warren Library, an east Denver branch of the city’s public library system, was re-named the Ford-Warren Library. In February, 1984, the house on Arapahoe Street was moved to 3091 California Street to avoid demolition. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is now the location of the Black America West Museum and Heritage Center. Her first floor office and waiting room remain as she used them. The Dr. Justina Ford Medical Society was formed in 1987 to support black physicians training in Denver. The Colorado Medical Society, which for so many years rejected Ford as a member, passed a resolution in 1989 declaring her a “Medical Pioneer of Colorado.”

            Ford’s long career exemplifies the status of both female and African American physicians in America in the first half of the twentieth century. As Ford began her practice in 1900, there were about 7000 female physicians in the United States, or nearly five percent of all doctors. That percentage remained steady until the 1970's when it began the rise that continues today. In 1920, almost midway through her career, she was one of only 65 African American female physicians in the United States. The U.S. Census that year counted almost 3900 black male doctors. By 1930 the total number of black physicians had fallen to 3805.

            Justina Ford had to overcome both race and gender prejudice to carve out a successful practice. Black male and white female physicians had their own problems with obtaining an education, developing a practice, and relating to a white male medical establishment that mostly ostracized them. Ford, like other black female doctors, had a double set of problems to face. Perhaps both her personal drive and the fact that she settled in Denver, with its multi-racial population, made her remarkable career possible.

Bibliography

 “Dr. Justina Ford: Honored as First black Female Physician in Colorado.” Colorado Medicine 86(4): 60, February 15, 1989

Harris, Mark. “The Forty Years of Justina Ford.” Negro Digest 8:42-45, March 1950

Johnson, Connie. “Dr. Justina Ford: Preserving the Legacy.” Odyssey West 7(2):4-5, March-April 1988

Lohse, Joyce B. Justina Ford, Medical Pioneer (2004)

Riley, Marilyn Griggs. “Denver’s Pioneering Physician and ‘Baby Doctor”: Justina L. Ford, M.D., 1871-1952” in Marilyn Griggs Riley, High Altitude Attitudes: Six Savy Colorado Women (2006)

Smith, Jessie Carney. “Justina L. Ford (1871-1952) Physician, humanitarian” in Jessie Carney Smith, ed. Notable Black American Women Book II (1996)

Tollette, Wallace Yvonne. Justina Lorena Ford, M.D.: Colorado’s First Black Woman Doctor (2005)


Tollette, Wallace Yvonne. Justina’s Dream (2005)



Monday, August 22, 2016

Who Tossed My Baseball Cards?

I recently had lunch at Taste of Thailand [very good food] in Hoover, and noticed the empty shop seen below in the same commercial strip. I have no idea how long the store operated, but there was a comment posted on Yelp in December 2007. I realized this ghost sign offered a chance to drag out some old Birmingham Barons baseball cards I salvaged when my son was about to toss them. I can also wax nostalgic about baseball cards in general. 

The cards have been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, trade cards featuring baseball players began to appear in the late 1860's in the U.S. Modern card history began in the late 1940's. Markets for the cards have ebbed and flowed over the years depending on economic factors, world wars, and such baseball-related events as the 1994 players strike. Cards have been marketed mainly to adults, children or collectors or more than one of these groups at various times. Baseball cards appeared in other countries as early as the late 1890's when they became available in Japan. Cuba followed in 1909 and Canada in 1912. 

The Birmingham Barons have a long history beginning in 1885 that you can read about here and here. At times the team has left the city as owners change; the current team arrived in 1981 under the aegis of the Detroit Tigers. The team moved from classic Rickwood Field to the larger Hoover Met beginning with the 1988 season. In 2013 the Barons moved back downtown to Regions Field next to Railroad Park. 

Thus the 1989 Barons' cards below are from the team's second year at the Met. The final card is from the 1991 season, also at the Met. The Barons won the West Division of the Southern League in both of those seasons. The back of each of these cards gives personal information about the players as well as their professional baseball achievements. I wonder how many of them are still associated with baseball in some way?

Baseball cards have survived a long time. Apparently the market for vintage paper cards is robust. Now you can even buy digital cards, but they wouldn't be the same. I can't imagine how you would attach them with clothes pins to your bicycle spokes and ride around making that cool noise like my friends and I used to do back in the day. 

Now for the big question--who tossed MY baseball cards?? Well, probably mom, as the cliche goes, but it doesn't really matter now. I didn't have any Honus Wagner or Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth cards anyway.....might have had Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, though!!





























Thursday, August 18, 2016

Film Actresses from Alabama Before 1960 (5): Cathy O'Donnell

I recently watched They Live by Night on Turner Classic Movies; I don't remember ever seeing this classic film noir before. The movie is based on Edward Anderson's 1937 novel, Thieves Like Us, which I read some years ago. The book is included in a Library of America collection of six crime novels, putting it alongside such impressive titles as James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice and Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? In 1974 director Robert Altman filmed another version of the novel, using the novel's title. However, unlike the original film, that one did not star Alabama native Cathy O'Donnell.

O'Donnell was born Ann M. Steely on July 6, 1923, the first child of Harold G. and Ora L. Steely. Younger brother Joe was born two years later. At the time the family lived in Siluria Village, an unincorporated area for the workers at the Buck Creek Cotton Mills. Harold, apparently known as "Henry", was a teacher at Thompson High School and also operated the Siluria Community House, which included a silent movie theater. The facility eventually burned, but later served as the site of the Alabaster YMCA for several decades.

Young Ann probably attended first grade at Thompson Elementary, but the family soon moved to Greensboro. Henry died there in 1935, and Ora moved the two children to Oklahoma City when Ann was twelve. She graduated from Classen High School there and briefly studied at a business college. She entered Oklahoma City University, where she studied drama and appeared in some student productions. In 1944 she left the city and headed to Hollywood.

She first appeared uncredited as a night club patron in Wonder Man in 1945. Including that role, she acted in only 18 films in her career, but several were significant. 

The following year she played the high school sweetheart of a double amputee in The Best Years of Our Lives. That film, which told the story of U.S.. servicemen adjusting to civilian life, won seven Oscars and was a major box office success.

Over the rest of her career O'Donnell starred with Farley Granger in two crime dramas, the aforementioned They Live By Night and Side Street. She also appeared opposite Kirk Douglas in Detective Story [1951] and James Stewart in The Man From Laramie [1955]. In her final film she had a sizable role in the 1959 epic Ben-Hur. 

In the 1960's she guest-starred on such TV shows as Perry Mason, Bonanza, The Rebel and Zane Gray Theater. 

In April 1948 O'Donnell married Robert Wyler, a film producer and older brother of director William Wyler. O'Donnell died from cancer complications in April 1970. The couple had no children. She is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. I have yet to determine what happened to her mother and younger brother. 

This article gives more details about the Steely family in Alabama, based on research by Bobby Joe Seales:

Bryant, Joseph D. Long-ago Hollywood actress came from Shelby mill town. Birmingham News 8 June 2005



Embedded image permalink



Source: TCM.com



Embedded image permalink

Cathy O'Donnell & Farley Granger are on the run in "They Live by Night" (1949)
Source: TCM.com





Another scene from They Live By Night

Source: Tumblr




O'Donnell and Granger starred together in another film, Side Street [1950]









Cathy O'Donnell in 1959, the year she made her final film, Ben-Hur

Source: Wikipedia








Source: Tumblr



Monday, August 15, 2016

A Quick Visit to Bug Tussle

This post is yet another entry in the series I'm doing on various places my brother Richard and I visited in July on our annual trip to explore Alabama and family history. I've written about Bessemer and Jasper visits here and here. On Saturday morning after we left Jasper we headed toward our next stop, Colony, a town founded by African Americans just after the Civil War. I'll do a future post on Colony, but now it's Bug Tussle's turn. 

Bug Tussle is in Cullman County at the intersection of state highways 69 and 91. We didn't find much there. The sign below announcing the Bugtussle Steak House was inviting, but the place was closed, as in permanently. We did stop at the Bug Tussle Marketplace, which has a couple of reviews and photographs on Yelp. Google Earth also shows a Dollar General and a few dwellings near the intersection. 

State highway maps list the location as Wilburn (Bug Tussle). Virginia Foscue's Place Names in Alabama indicates Wilburn was the original name of the area, given to it by Charles Sandlin, the first postmaster. A post office operated there from 1903 to 1906. Foscue cites the "general assumption" that Bug Tussle indicates the presence of bugs in the area. However, that pretty much describes all of Alabama.

Note that the address given on the sales receipt below for the marketplace is "Bremen, AL", which is an unincorporated town further north on highway 69 toward Dodge City. Bremen is the location of Cold Springs Elementary and High Schools. According to Foscue, Bremen was originally called Empire when founded in 1860. After his appointment in 1879 the first postmaster James Macentepe changed it to avoid confusion with another town of that name and to honor the German city.  

A 1990 Tuscaloosa News article discussing strange town names in Alabama can be found here. That article gives the origin of Bug Tussle this way: an old man climbed a nearby mountain [perhaps Cold Springs Mountain] and thought the movement of people below looked like bugs tussling. 

Alabama's town is not the only U.S. Bug Tussle. The one in Texas is also spelled as two words, the ones in Kentucky and Oklahoma are one word. On January 4, 1967, a season 5 episode of the Beverly Hillbillies entitled "Mayor of Bug Tussle" was first broadcast. The Clampett's home state was never specified in that series, but in this episode Bug Tussle is identified as their home town.










Friday, August 12, 2016

A Quick Visit to Posey's Hardware in Jasper

Each year my brother Richard and I take a trip together, usually through some part of Alabama exploring family and state history. This year's trip was short, but we still managed to get in a few places. This post is the second in a series about the trip; the first one is here

As we were leaving Jasper on Saturday morning, we stopped at Andrew Posey and Son, Hardware Plumbing and Gifts at the corner of Elliott Blvd. [Alabama 69] and 20th Street West. Cleaning out some files recently, I had found a 1985 newspaper article about the store, and we decided to check it out. 

The place needs its own historical marker. G.R. Posey constructed the building in 1919 and rented it to a grocer until 1924 when he bought that business. At some point I guess the groceries were phased out and hardware moved in. Son Andrew later took it over and then passed it to his son Hershel. At the time of the 1985 article, Hershel's son Randy had returned to Jasper to help with the business. 

The store has a wide array of kitchen and household items, tools, and so forth that you won't find at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. The place is stuffed to the gills with practical things, gift items and lots of plain silly stuff. I bought something, of course--a Posey's coffee mug!

I've made comments under a couple of the photos below. Here's the citation for that 1985 article:

Crowson, Bryan. 'The Last Place on Earth' Need a washboard? A new mule collar? Posey likely has it. Birmingham News 29 September 1985 





Many years ago we bought one of those red wagons to haul our kids around in the back yard. Dianne now uses if to hold flower pots in the back of the lot. 




Since I'm an Auburn fan, some of the products were not very appealing. 



One of my uncles worked at Coca Cola bottling operations for many years and collected much memorabilia. He would have appreciated this corner. 




Here you can see some of the variety of goods available. Throughout the store many old items not for sale are on display, like the glass bottles on this shelf. The place is thus both a store and an educational look at some of the many products humans have manufactured to make life easier.






Monday, August 8, 2016

Birmingham Photo of the Day (49): Airport Terminal

This two-story building opened with great fanfare on May 31, 1931, as the new terminal for the Birmingham airport. A single runway served American Airways flights from Atlanta to Fort Worth.

The present terminal opened in 1973. A detailed history of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport can be found at the BhamWiki site. That article has a photo of the original terminal taken in February 1947. Based on the vehicle seen in the lower left, the photo below was probably taken earlier. 

I wonder what kind of security procedures passengers had to submit to in 1931? 






Source: Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections



Friday, August 5, 2016

Alabama Book Covers (13): Col. Prentiss Ingraham

In October 2015 I posted an entry in this series on Joseph Holt Ingraham, who wrote numerous popular novels before the Civil War and also served as an Episcopal priest in Mobile and elsewhere. Now I'd like to cover his son Prentiss, a Confederate veteran, soldier of fortune and extremely prolific author of dime novels who also had a connection with Alabama.

The son was born near Natchez, Mississippi, on December 28, 1843. He began his formal education at St. Timothy's Military Academy in Maryland, where John Wilkes Booth was a classmate. Then Ingraham returned to Mississippi and further education at Jefferson College in Washington. Founded in 1811 in the Mississippi Territory, that school operated almost continuously in one form or another until finally closing in 1964.

After college Ingraham enrolled at the Medical College of Alabama, which had opened in November 1859, thus making his appearance in Alabama. The Civil War interrupted his education there, and he enlisted in Wither's Mississippi Regiment. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and suffered wounds at Port Hudson and the Battle of Franklin.

After the war Ingraham spent several years as a soldier of fortune in hot spots around the world. He served under Juarez in Mexico during the rebellion against Maximillian; with Austrian forces in their war with Prussia; in Crete against the Turks, in the Khedive's army in Egypt, and in both the Cuban army and navy. In Cuba he was captured by Spanish forces and sentenced to death, but managed to escape.  

Perhaps tiring of all this activity, Ingraham had settled in London around 1870. Here he began his first attempts at writing stories and satiric sketches. Finding little success, he had moved to New York City by 1875. There he met and married Rose Langley, an author, composer and artist. They would eventually have a son and two daughters.

Ingraham continued writing in New York City, but by 1881 the wanderlust apparently returned. He headed west, where he encountered Buffalo Bill Cody among others. He soon joined Cody's Wild West Show. He also met the Powell brothers Frank, George and Will. Ingraham would later write fiction based on the lives of all these men.

Ingraham's first dime novel, The Masked Spy, had appeared in 1872. After his western adventures, he and his family lived in Easton, Maryland, and Chicago until his final days at the Beauvoir Confederate Home in Biloxi, Mississippi. During this period Ingraham wrote vast amounts of fiction.

He is said to have written 600 novels and 400 short novels issued by dime novel publisher Beadle and Adams and others. Ingraham wrote under his own name as well as a number of pseudonyms. He claimed to have written a 70,000 word novel in a week. Some of his novels were leaner revisions of his father's florid novels.

E.Z.C Judson, writing as Ned Buntline, is credited with discovering Buffalo Bill and writing the first novels about him. Yet Ingraham wrote dozens of novels about Cody and is primarily responsible for creating the legendary character. 

Examples of some of Ingraham's Buffalo Bill novels can be seen below, along with some on other subjects. A few novels can be found online here and here. More information about Ingraham can be found here and here. A master's thesis by Phyllis J. Gernhardt, "Prentiss Ingraham and the Dime Novel" was completed at Ball State University in 1992. He really deserves a full biography.

Ingraham died at the Confederate home on August 16, 1904, of Bright's disease. He is buried in the cemetery on the grounds of Beauvoir, formerly the home of Jefferson Davis. The home was extensively damaged by Hurricane Katrina. 

The Find-A-Grave entry for Prentiss is here [note misspelling of first name on the gravestone] and his father's is here

Unless otherwise noted, cover images are from Texas Tech University's Southwest Collection Archive






Source: Wikipedia


















Source: eBay 




Source: Etsy.com 




"One of his most historically interesting protagonists appears in “Darkie Dan, the Colored Detective; or, The Mississippi Mystery” in an August 1902 edition of the The New York Dime Library. Beadle & Adams originally printed the story in 1881. Manumitted after saving his young mistress from a pack of wolves, Dan remains in faithful service to the Mississippi planter family, rescuing them from many trials involving the villainous criminal known as the “King of Diamonds.” Dan is one of the earliest African-American protagonists of the mystery genre, if not the first."

Source: University of Mississippi library exhibit






Source: The Commoner [Lincoln NE] 16 September 1904

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Movies with Alabama Connections (8): The Big Gamble

This 1931 film actually has two Alabama connections. The female lead is Birmingham native Dorothy Sebastian. The film is based on a novel by Octavus Roy Cohen, a prolific author who spent a number of years in Birmingham and who set many short stories in the city. I've posted about Sebastian in my "Film Actresses from Alabama before 1960" series and Cohen in my "Alabama Book Covers" series

Sebastian's male co-star in the film was her husband at the time, Bill Boyd. Sebastian and Boyd were married in December 1930 in Las Vegas. They had met the previous year while making the film His First Command. The couple divorced in 1936. By that time Boyd was just beginning to play the character that would make him even more famous, Hopalong Cassidy.

Some other interesting actors show up in The Big Gamble. Warner Oland played the villain; he was well known for his roles in other films as Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan. ZaZu Pitts had a long career in both dramatic and comedic roles stretching from silent films into the early 1960's. 

Below is the New York Times original review of the film from September 1931. The story is pretty contrived and ends as you would expect, but the Alabama connections kept me watching to the end. The Big Gamble is the first film with Birmingham native Dorothy Sebastian that I've seen, and I'll have to look for more. 






The Big Gamble poster

Source: Wikipedia



Cohen's novel was published in 1925.



On the film's release in 1931, the New York Times ran this review: 


The man with a year to live is stalking heroically and a bit sadly across the Hippodrome screen this week in "The Big Gamble," which started its public career as a novel by Octavus Roy Cohen called "The Iron Chalice." The situation is a reliable standby for the amusement-hunter who likes an hour of honest suspense between the sinister beginning and the happy ending. With James Gleason and ZaSu Pitts on hand to make funny faces at the plot, after those scenes in which Warner Oland has sent out a new ultimatum to the doomed man and lured the spectators to the tense edges of their seats, "The Big Gamble" fits without a jar into the Hippodrome program between the acrobats and the newsreel.

Alan Beckwith, gambler, is at the end of his rope, but before quitting life he wants to square his debts. Mr. North, who has a proposition for every occasion, agrees to take care of the debts if Beckwith will marry a certain woman, who shall be named beneficiary in a $100,000 insurance policy. At the end of a year, the policy being ripe for payment, Beckwith will die in an "accident" and Mr. North will be richer by his death.

Naturally the inscrutable Mr. North had not counted on his pawns falling in love. A year is a short time and love is stronger than Mr. North and all his paid gunmen. Beckwith and his wife work furiously against the deadline and manage to scrape enough money together to pay back Mr. North. Then, on Dec. 31, Mr. North announces that he wants $100,000 or nothing. In the last five minutes before Beckwith and his wife pose for the happy fadeout, "The Big Gamble" offers a wild midnight automobile chase and a final dash of the gangster car down an embankment that was exciting enough to whip yesterday's spectators into scattered applause.
Bill Boyd and Dorothy Sebastian officiate as the gambler Beckwith and his wife. Warner Oland compounds his usual expert villainies in the rĂ´le of North. As a small-time tout who aspires to a gunman's career, James Gleason is amusing, and as his bickering wife ZaSu Pitts again exhibits her talent as a comedienne.

One Year to Live.
THE BIG GAMBLE, based on Octavus Roy Cohen's story, "The Iron Chalice"; directed by Fred Niblo; an RKO Pathe production. At the Hippodrome.
Alan Beckwith . . . . . Bill Boyd
Beverly . . . . . Dorothy Sebastian
Mr. North . . . . . Warner Oland
Johnny . . . . . William Collier Jr.
Squint . . . . . James Gleason
Nora . . . . . ZaSu Pitts
May . . . . . June MacCloy
Trixie . . . . . Geneva Mitchell
Webb . . . . . Ralph Ince
Butler . . . . . Fred Walton


SOURCE: This review appeared in the New York Times on 21 September 1931.