Big City Blues (1932 film)

Big City Blues is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and distributed by Warner Bros. The film is based on the play New York Town by Ward Morehouse and stars Joan Blondell and Eric Linden, with uncredited early appearances by Humphrey Bogart and Lyle Talbot.[1]

Big City Blues
Big City Blues (1932).jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byMervyn LeRoy
Written byLillie Hayward
Based onthe play New York Town
by Ward Morehouse
StarringJoan Blondell
Eric Linden
Jobyna Howland
Music byRay Heindorf
Bernhard Kaun
CinematographyJames Van Trees
Edited byRay Curtiss
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • September 10, 1932 (1932-09-10)
Running time
63 minutes
CountryUnited States

Original prints and copies of the motion picture are preserved in the collections of the Library of Congress, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and in other major film repositories.[2][3]


Bud Reeves is a naive young man (Eric Linden) who lives in a small town in Indiana. After inheriting $1,100 from his aunt, he decides to use the money to move to New York City to find a job and start a new life. His dog Duke follows him to the railroad station, and the Station Agent (Grant Mitchell) says he'll take care of the pup--won't take him as a gift but only as a loan, because he's quite sure Bud will be back in a month or less, having spent some time in the city himself, and well aware of how tough it can be.

Once there, Bud rents a modest but spacious hotel room and soon meets his much older, slick-talking cousin "Gibby" (Walter Catlett). Gibby immediately begins to fleece Bud out of small amounts of his cash to buy things. He also introduces him to chorus girl Vida Fleet (Joan Blondell) and her friend Faun (Inez Courtney). Bud quickly falls in love with Vida.

Trouble soon starts when Gibby purchases a large amount of liquor and champagne from a local bootlegger (J. Carroll Naish) and arranges a party in Bud's room. In addition to Vida and Faun, others joining the party include Jackie Devoe (Josephine Dunn) and more chorus girls, as well as three men: "Stacky" (Ned Sparks), Shep (Humphrey Bogart), and Lenny (Lyle Talbot). Later in the evening, after considerable drinking, Shep and a very drunk Lenny begin arguing about who will take unconscious Jackie home. A fight ensues; furniture is overturned; and lamps are broken. As the lights go out, Shep and Lenny continue their brawl. Bottles are also being wildly thrown and used as weapons in the darkened room. When the lights come back on, the revelers discover that Jackie, lying on a couch, is dead, killed by one of the bottles hitting her head. Everyone except Bud hurriedly leaves the hotel room, even Vida. The house detective, Hummel (Guy Kibbee), soon discovers Jackie's body after seeing Vida, who has returned to get Bud. The young couple flees, try to escape the police, but are later arrested along with some of the other partiers. All are finally cleared of any charges when back at the hotel Hummel finds the real killer, Lenny, whose corpse is hanging in a closet. Evidence shows that he committed the crime, and that in his guilt and remorse over Jackie's death he hanged himself.

After a tearful goodbye with Vida, Bud goes back to Indiana, to find Duke patiently waiting for him at the station (the Station Agent collects on a bet he made over this). A telegraph he sends via the Station Agent indicates he intends to return to New York after saving enough money, presumably to marry Vida.



Uncredited Cast


  1. ^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993:Big City Blues
  2. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.16 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
  3. ^ "Big City Blues (1932)", non-circulating copy of film, UCLA Film and Television Archives, Los Angeles, California. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  4. ^ McCarty, Clifford (1965). Bogey-The Films of Humphrey Bogart. Cadillac Publishing Co., Inc. p. 23.

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