Another classic set during the 1930s, Smart Money is all about the exciting world of gambling, and how it can have its ups and downs. Smart money stars legendary actors Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney. Filmed in black and white, and produced by Warner Brothers, Smart Money is a pre-code drama film, being released during the period where films were beginning to use sound.
Although often thought of as a traditional gangster movie, Smart Money is considered a drama, as the plot of the film revolves around the rise and fall of one man. The film was nominated at the 4th Academy Awards for the award of Best Story, which is now a defunct category.
Cast and Crew of Smart Money
The leading roles were performed by Hollywood heavyweights Edward G. Robinson, and James Cagney, both well known for their roles as gangsters in Hollywood films of the time. Edward G. Robinson plays Nick Venizelos, while James Cagney stars as Jack. The main love interest of Robinson’s character is Irene, portrayed by Evalyn Knapp. The main antagonist of the film, Sleepy Sam, is played by actor Ralf Harolde.
Smart Money was written by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright, Lucien Hubbard, and Joseph Jackson. Alfred E. Green both produced and directed the film.
Smart Money Synopsis
Nick Venizelos, a Greek man living in a town called Irontown, is the local barber, and also holds gambling sessions in the back of his shop. Nick is gifted in poker, almost always winning every game he plays. He becomes so renown throughout the town for his skill that his patrons offer to help pay for him to play against legendary poker player, Hickory Short. Nick manages to raise the money he needs to enter a poker game with Short, but quickly loses all his money, as the game was rigged. Nick learns that Short is in fact a man by the name of Sleepy Sam, a famous conman, while the real Hickory resides in jail. Nick leaves back to Irontown, but swears revenge on Sleepy Sam.
After spending six months raising enough money to have another poker game against Sleepy Sam, the two accept a wager for $50000. Unbeknownst to Sam, Nick has rigged the game, and ends up winning. The conman and his crew then pull out guns, but Nick calls for help, and Jack and another man enter with guns already drawn, and are able to make an escape. Nick goes on to become an extremely wealthy man, eventually playing and winning against the real Hickory Short.
Nick, however, has a well-known weakness for blonde women, and after falling for a girl they find, Irene, things begin to unravel. The district attorney blackmails Irene into planting evidence that can be used against Nick, but not before Jack finds out. While attempting to reveal the truth to Nick, Jack gets knocked across the head and subsequently dies, and Nick is arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison, but bets that he will get out in five.
Smart Money Verdict
A classic movie about the rise and fall of one man, Smart Money features some of the most iconic actors ever to grace the silver screen.