Bad Company
Theatrical poster for film
Directed byTay Garnett
Written byJack Lait (novel)
Tay Garnett
Tom Buckingham
Produced byCharles R. Rogers
Harry Joe Brown
StarringHelen Twelvetrees
Ricardo Cortez
CinematographyArthur C. Miller
Edited byClaude Berkeley
Music byArthur Lange
Distributed by RKO Pathé
Release date
  • October 2, 1931 (1931-10-02) (U.S.)[1]
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States

Bad Company is a 1931 American pre-Code gangster film directed and co-written by Tay Garnett with Tom Buckingham based on Jack Lait's 1930 novel Put on the Spot. It stars Helen Twelvetrees and Ricardo Cortez. Told from the view of a woman, the working titles of this film were The Gangster's Wife and The Mad Marriage.[2] Unlike many static early sound films, Garnett includes several scenes using a moving camera climaxing in a gigantic assault on an office building with both sides using heavy machine guns.


Rich and beautiful Helen King is about to marry Steve Carlyle, a wealthy young professional. Unknown to Helen and her family, Steve is a legal advisor to a megalomaniac gangster Goldie Gorio.

Steve wishes to leave the rackets but Goldie reintroduces him to his future father-in-law, a rival gangster where both parties see the marriage as a symbol of peace and an end of violence in their transactions. Steve remains with Goldie and fills in for him to a visit to a rival gangster's boat where he is ambushed and nearly killed by their machine gun. Helen vows revenge on Goldie.


(as per AFI database.)[1]

Critical reception

In a contemporary review in The New York Times, critic Mordaunt Hall wrote that the film was "good enough entertainment of its kind," that "machine guns, on the whole, provide the most effective bits," and that "Ricardo Cortez plays the part effectively [...] if he becomes a little ludicrous in his more savage moods, splitting a man's head for suggesting that a dinner coat ordinarily has but one button, turning homicidal lunatic when a cat pushes a plaster bust of himself off the table - he is at least honestly amusing."[3] A modern review by author and critic Danny Reid reported that the film "gives us an underworld fully realized and utterly perverse [...] the violence is frankly shocking for the time, and the direction lively and playful" and "it’s the utter insanity of Cortez’s Capone-esque magnate you’ll take away with you."[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bad Company: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ "Bad Company". Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  3. ^ Hall, Mordaunt. "THE SCREEN; The Brave and the Fair, and a Thriller From, the Sherlock Holmes Detective Series. A Conan Doyle Tale. Cinderella Wins Out. A Jolly German Operetta. Those Gangsters Again". The New York Times. The New York Times Inc. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  4. ^ Reid, Danny. "Bad Company (1931) Review, with Helen Twelvetrees and Ricardo Cortez". Retrieved October 28, 2022.