Big Town Czar

Big Town Czar is a 1939 American mystery film directed by Arthur Lubin starring Barton MacLane and Tom Brown.[1][2]

Big Town Czar
Directed byArthur Lubin
Written byEdmund Hartmann
StarringBarton MacLane
Tom Brown
Narrated byEd Sullivan
Music byCharles Previn
CinematographyElwood Bredell
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 3, 1939 (1939-05-03) (New York City)
  • May 11, 1939 (1939-05-11) (United States)
Running time
66 minutes
CountryUnited States


New York City newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan relates the story of crime boss Phil Daley's rise and fall. To the disappointment of his parents but delight of younger brother Danny, crime has paid off handsomely for Phil, but he isn't able to discourage Danny from following in his footsteps.

Danny bribes a prizefighter to take a dive, costing rival gangster Mike Luger a lot of money in bets. Danny ends up dead, and Phil needs to lay low because Luger's looking for him, too. He manages to kill Luger, but ends up arrested, convicted and sentenced to die.



The film was based on a story by Ed Sullivan. Universal bought it in August 1938.[3] Barton MacLane was cast in December.[4]

Lubin was attached to the film in February 1939.[5]

Filming started 24 February 1939.[6]


The New York Times called it "a bustling little melodrama."[7]


  1. Big Town Czar Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 6, Iss. 61, (Jan 1, 1939): 113.
  2. Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.
  3. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOODD New York Times 3 Aug 1938: 15.
  4. 'Citadel' Chosen Best Picture in English: Morris in Potter Story Owen Plays Book Broker New MacLane Assignment Davis in 'Poor Nut' Los Angeles Times 17 Dec 1938: A7.
  5. Special to The New York Times. (1939, Feb 17). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times
  6. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD New York Times 24 Feb 1939: 21.
  7. THE SCREEN: 'Big Town Czar,' at the Criterion, Proves Again That Crime Doesn't Pay--British Preparedness Film By FRANK S. NUGENT. New York Times 04 May 1939: 33.
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