Mal Stevens (Richard Arlen), Van Rensseler (Harvey Stephens), and Tex Logan (Gordon Jones) are three friends in training to become federal agents. They work so well together that their superiors assign them as a team.
Things get a little bit complicated for the men when their latest case becomes a personal matter. After putting a stop to a kidnapping plot against socialite Eleanor Spencer (Virginia Bruce), Mal finds himself falling for Eleanor. This is problematic not only because she’s involved in one of his cases, but also because she’s an ex-girlfriend of one of his partners, Van.
Let ‘Em Have It was released in 1935 and directed by Sam Wood (The Pride of the Yankees, For Whom the Bell Tolls) for Reliance Pictures. The film includes a dedication “To the men of the Department of Justice who have given their lives in Service of their Country.”
The story of Let ‘Em Have It is interesting in that both sides of the law are explicitly shown. We see the law men carrying out their investigation every step of the way, and we see the criminals in the masterminding and execution phases of their crimes. This seems like it may be a lot to pack into a 95-minute run time, but the film is well-paced. No side of the story overwhelms the other, and neither side feels underdeveloped.
On the side of the law, there is a subplot that I really enjoyed: that of Eleanor’s brother, Buddy (Eric Linden). Buddy is desperate to become a federal agent himself and to join Mal and the gang in their take-downs of criminals. He’s a naive young man who gets himself into deep trouble by investigating on his own without the help of the more experienced agents. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a whole film about his character.
Aside from Eric Linden, there are no particularly spectacular, stand-out performances, but the cast is solid. Arlen and Bruce are nice leads for a minor crime drama. They have very good chemistry but aren’t quite as attention-grabbing as some of the legendary screen pairs, which is a good fit for a film where the focus is on the crime drama rather than the romance.
Let ‘Em Have It isn’t an instant-favorite crime drama, but it’s a decent little film. If you’re interested in watching, it’s available on Netflix Instant. The score: 3/5