No Match for Warren William in The Match King – Pre-Code Drama in 35mm Print from Library of Congress – July 26

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, July 26 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley • 1932
Warner Bros.-First National made its share of risqué and radical films during the pre-Production Code era, but none is so crammed with topical incident as The Match King. Based on the life of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish con artist who popularized the superstition that “three on a match” brought bad luck (and boosted sales volume accordingly), The Match King chronicles Warren William’s rise from lowly Chicago Cubs sanitation worker to continental matchstick magnate. (Talk about efficiency: Kreuger killed himself in March 1932, and his life story reached the screen before year’s end.) A man capable of bluffing from the heart, leveraging assets out of thin air, and outright stealing whatever he needs to stay one step ahead of his creditors and competitors, William’s Paul Kroll is a tycoon only Ayn Rand could love. (Indeed, Rand brought her own version of Kreuger’s death to the stage as Night of January 16th, which naturally presented the so-called criminal as a victim of a mediocre, conformist society.) Like the best pre-Code films, The Match King subsists on a simple moral imperative, but ultimately stands apart from its brethren on the basis of its globe-trotting scope, ruthless forward momentum, and ever-timely warning against trusting a dealmaker in sheep’s clothing. (KW)
78 min • First National Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Swank

Preceded by: Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in “Buccaneer Bunny” (Friz Freleng, 1948) – 16mm – 8 min

Photo courtesy of Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive

For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

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