Boris Karloff as gangster Tony Ricca in the Columbia Pictures gangster drama The Guilty Generation

This week Turner Classic Movies is going to show one of my personal favorite early thirties gangster films The Guilty Generation (1931) starring Leo Carrillo, Boris Karloff, Robert Young, Constance Cummings, Ruth Warren, Leslie Fenton. This was a fantastic film and one of the best gangster stories that you’ve probably never seen.

Romeo and Juliet: gangster style!  Robert Young meets Constance Cummings in The Guilty Generation.

Carrillo and Karloff are mafia bosses waging a no holds barred war against each other.
Robert Young is Karloff’s son who has changed his name and become a respectable architect who wants nothing to do with his dads business which angers Karloff. Cummings is Carrillos daughter. Carrillo tries in vain to push her into high society, but high society wants nothing to do with her or her father.

Leo Carrillo in The Guilty Generation


By chance, in true “Romeo and Juliet” fashion, Young and Cummings, the children of the rival kingpins, meet and fall in love. Meanwhile, Carrillos and Karloffs gang war escalates and close family members start to die off. Even Carrillo’s and Karloff’s own people think the gang war has gone too far. Ruth Warren is a lot of fun as Carrillo’s PR girl, constantly trying to gloss over Carrillo’s many criminal activities. These two have some fun dialogue with each other. The Guilty Generation is witty, well written and surprisingly violent with an ending no less shocking than the finale of The Public Enemy. Carrillo is always fun and it’s interesting to see Karloff in a non “Monster” film that was released just days before Frankenstein.

The Guilty Generation will be showing on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday April 7 at 12 noon eastern time. Don’t miss it!

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