From: jimdohertyjr (
Date: 05 Apr 2006


Re your comments below:

> Burnett was never actually credited with writing a screen
adaptation of Saint
> Johnson. Who knows if he might have given John Huston a hand in the
> version directed by Edward Cahn. By the way, Saint Johnson was
adapted for
> the screen on three occasions, all entitled Law and Order. The
first L&O in
> 1932, directed by Cahn, script by John Huston. The second in 1940,
directed by
> Ray Taylor, starring Johnnie Mack Brown, and the third in 1953,
> Ronald Reagan.

In the first place, there were two more film adaptations of SAINT JOHNSON, and, in the second place, Burnett was the co-writer on one of them.

One was entitled WAY OUT WEST, a multi-chapter serial which, like the second feature to be entitled LAW & ORDER, starred Johnny Mack Brown. There was little of the Earp/Clanton feud to be found in this one. Nevertheless, Burnett's SAINT JOHNSON was credited as the source material.

The second, coming just a year after the first LAW & ORDER, also starred Walter Huston. It was called BEAST OF THE CITY. In this one, Burnett, one of the credited screenwriters, reversed the usual pattern done with film versions of his work (that is taking a gangster story and reworking it as a western) and instead took his western and reworked it as a gangster story.

Huston played Captain Jim Fitzpatrick, commander of Homicide in a city that is unnamed but is obviously Chicago. Jean Hersholt plays the Capone figure (standing in for the Clantons). And Wallace Ford plays the weak-willed kid brother, who's also a detective on the Force. Fitzpatrick, unpopular with the powers-that-be, is transferred from Homicide to a remote precinct to get him out of the limelight, but, through a series of fortuitous events, gets a fast- track promotion to police chief and goes after the Mob with guns blazing. The final scene, parallelling the OK Corral shoot-out, is a gun battle between the cops and mobsters in a gangland nightclub.

Burnett was quite proud of this film, thinking it quite the equal of the three seminal gangster films of this period, LITTLE CAESAR, SCARFACE, and THE PUBLIC ENEMY. Notably, Burnett had something to do with the first two of those three, being the author of the source novel of the first, and the screenwriter of the second.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 05 Apr 2006 EDT