Bargain with Bullets (1937)

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Directed with some style by B-Western specialist Harry L. Fraser, this "all-black" gangster melodrama was the first black-cast film to be exhibited by the powerful Loews theater chain. Ralph Cooper starred as "Mugsy" Moore, a black gangster torn between two women: his moll Kay Latour (Frances Turham, and childhood sweetheart Grace Foster (Theresa Harris, the latter now a famous radio star. Tracked down by Police Captain Holmes (Sam McDaniel, brother of Hattie and Etta) and his young second-in-command, Lieutenant Lester (Edward Thompson), Mugsy attempts to establish an alibi for a gang-land killing by using Grace. The police, however, manage to trap the killer by way of a fake radio broadcast. Bargain With Bullets was the first film to be released by Million Dollar Productions, a firm founded by Cooper and the (white) Popkin brothers, Leo and Harry, to produce motion pictures for African-American theaters.