Alias Jimmy Valentine (1915)

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Lee Randall (Robert Warwick) is a man who leads a double life. By day he is a respectable person; by night he robs banks. His gang stages an elaborate break-in at a bank, but they are discovered while fleeing the scene of the crime, and the gang is captured. (During their stay in jail, real shots of prisoners in Sing Sing are shown -- though some of the prisoners didn't want their faces in the movie!). When Randall is released from prison after serving his time, the film becomes a traditional melodrama, telling the story of a man who tries to go straight and the difficulties that he encounters after he and his cronies get out of prison. When Randall has established a new life (keeping the books at a bank), a detective comes calling. The detective wants to pin an old bank heist on Randall. At the same time, a small girl is accidentally locked in the bank vault. Randall must use his safe-cracking skills to free her, even though it may send him back to prison. This film is one of several important gangster films released in the mid-teens. Director Maurice Tourneur's most imaginative camera work of the film is in the first 15 minutes when the gang executes a bank heist. There are several deep-staged set-ups that have characters in real locations (like a train) instead of just on studio sets. The heist features an over-the-head shot of the cubicles in the bank to show the night watchman just missing the crooks.

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Keywords

bank, bank-robbery, child, detective, double-life, gangster, going-straight, prison, rescue, robbery, vault [safe]