Larceny, Inc. is an American film. Originally released on May 2, 1942 by Warner Brothers, the film is a cross between the comedy and gangster genres. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, the picture stars Edward G. Robinson, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, and Jack Carson, and features Anthony Quinn, and Edward Brophy.
The film is based on the play The Night Before Christmas by S. J. Perelman.
Suave convict J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell decides to go straight. Just before he is released from prison along with his none-too-bright accomplice Jug Martin, he rejects a proposal by fellow inmate Leo Dexter to rob a bank.
Maxwell hopes to purchase a dog racing track in Florida and become a legitimate businessman with his adopted daughter, Denny Costello. However, he lacks the funds necessary. When his loan request is rejected by the bank (the same one Leo planned to break into), he decides to rob the place. Noticing a luggage shop next door, he buys the store from Homer Bigelow. He has Jug and their friend Weepy Davis start digging a tunnel in the basement.
Meanwhile, slick salesman Jeff Randolph convinces Weepy to order several dozen pieces of luggage to stock the store. Soon afterward, Jeff falls in love with Denny. When Denny finds out about Pressure's scheme, she gets Jeff to come up with various advertising gimmicks that bring in a flood of customers, forcing a stop to the noisy digging and showing the crooks that legitimate sales can be profitable.
The store flourishes, and the bank next door offers to purchase it from them, to expand their space. Pressure is ready to accept the offer, but when Leo learns that Pressure has stolen his idea, he breaks out of jail to take over. Due to the success of the luggage business, Pressure has long since abandoned the robbery plan, but Leo forces them to go through with it.
Leo plans on breaking into the vault on Christmas Eve with dynamite. Complicating matters, Homer Bigelow reappears, nostalgic for his store. He gets knocked out, but manages to press down the burglar alarm. Leo panics and reaches for his gun, but Pressure intervenes, before being knocked unconscious as well. Leo tries to escape, only to be caught by the police. The store erupts in flames, but Pressure revives and manages to drag Homer Bigelow outside, becoming a hero.
Denny accepts Jeff's marriage proposal. Pressure makes plans to build a new store, the first in a chain.Edward G. Robinson as J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell
Jane Wyman as Denny Costello
Broderick Crawford as Jug Martin
Jack Carson as Jeff Randolph
Anthony Quinn as Leo Dexter
Edward Brophy as Weepy Davis
Harry Davenport as Homer Bigelow
John Qualen as Sam Bachrach, a neighboring businessman
Barbara Jo Allen as Mademoiselle Gloria
Grant Mitchell as Mr. Aspinwall
Jackie Gleason as Soda Shop Clerk
Kitty Kelly as the fourth customer (uncredited)
The plot of Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks is very similar to that of Larceny, Inc.. Allen has never commented on whether this was deliberate or if his film was in any way inspired by Larceny, Inc..
Robinson took the role of Pressure Maxwell in this film to offset his "tough guy" image as established in his many appearances as gangsters or police officers in previous Warner Bros. films.
The film features many members of the Warner Brothers "stock company" and included an early film appearance by Jackie Gleason, as a drug store soda jerk.