Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 300: The Match King (1932) - Rank 3.5/5


I caught this little gem at 2:00 AM while channel surfing on TCM and was hooked until the end. Only did my research reveal later that the film is so obscure, not only does it lack a release onto VHS or DVD, but I couldn't find any original artwork for it either. No matter. The film is the tale of persuasive con man Paul Kroll (Warren William), based on real life crook Ivar Kreuger (known as the "Match King"). Kroll demonstrates his knack early on for accruing money through dubious means, convincing his foreman to cash and split paychecks for nonexistent employees and grifting what cash he can off of folks on the street. Shortly thereafter, he returns to his native Sweden, at the behest of his family, to save the family match factory. Not only does he do that, but he creates what can only be described as a primitive Ponzi scheme in which he buys up all the factories in Sweden and begins passing out fraudulent loans to corrupt officials in other countries in an effort to expand his empire. But as the old adage goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

The film had me hooked early on due to the magnetic screen presence of Warren William. He conveys a wonderful panache as Kroll, even as he drowns partners and sleeps with women with only furthering his ill-gotten gains in mind. So much so, that I'm motivated to check out some of his other works. It's a real pity that the film is not available on DVD, because I'd really like to watch this flick again. I guess I just need to take up channel surfing in the middle of the night more regularly.

Watch the Trailer

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