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Beggars in Ermine

USA 1934
produced by
William T. Lackey for Monogram
directed by Phil Rosen
starring Lionel Atwill, Betty Furness, Henry B. Walthall, Jameson Thomas, James Bush, Astrid Allwyn, George Hayes (= Gabby Hayes), Stephen Gross, Sam Godfrey, Myrtle Stedman, Lee Phelps
screenplay by Tristram Tupper, based on the novel by Esther Day Lynd, music by Edward Ward

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jim Marley (Jameson Thomas) wants to take over Flint Dawson's (Lionel Atwill) steel mill, so he sees to it that Flint is having an accident that costs him both his legs, then persuades Flint to hand over control of the mill to his wife Vivian (Astrid Allwyn) while in hospital, sweettalks his way into her heart, convinces her to sell him the steel mill and to come to London with him ... where he kills her.

Dawson, still in hospital, suddenly finds himself pennyless and a widower, but he's too proud to accept support from his (now former) employees, instead starts from the bottom with the help of blind beggar Marchant (Henry B.Walthall).

Mingling with beggars gives Flint an idea: Why not organize all crippled beggars of the country in a union in an effort to maximize their (diminuitive) earnings by clever investments ... and 15 years later, Flint has made his way back to the top and has made a fortune not only for himself but also for his beggars - and now he decides to crush Marley for taking his steel mill and killing his wife - but unfortunately, his own daughter Joyce (Betty Furness), whom he hasn't seen in 15 years, overhears a conversation about his plans, and since she is in love with Lee (James Bush), Marley's nephew, Marley somehow learns about his opposition and tries to outmaneuvre Dawson by manipulating his company's stocks - and suddenly it seems as if Dawson was crushed, when he learns that his beggars all over the country have bought stocks of Marley's company, and legally, Dawson is now the new owner.

In the finale, Dawson hands Marley the gun he has shot Dawson's wife with, and gives him the choice of either confessing everything to the police or ... and thus, Marley shoots himself.

And Dawson has his steel mill back and welcomes Marley's nephew into his family as future son-in-law.


Now this sounds good on paper: a businessman fallen from grace making it back to the top with the help of a beggars' union - a plot pretty much ripe for satire. Unfortunately, the screenwriter and director decided to play it straight and turn what could have been a piece of highly subversive cinema into a routine weepy melodrama - and so, apart from a solid performance by Atwill, Beggars in Ermine has very little to offer and turns out to be a very disappointing piece of cinema. Talk about a missed opportunity ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD