During the prohibition era, Scorpio (Wallace
Beery), Mizoski (Paul Hurst), and
Franks (Ralph Bellamy) start a bootleg liquor business. When their
activities spread to the big city, gangster leader Colimo (John Miljan) becomes
anxious. Franks and some underlings pay a visit to Colimo's brother at his
club. Franks kills Colimo's brother and places the blame on Scorpio.
Scorpio is wounded and, learning that Franks has pulled a double-cross, kills
him. Colimo is also disposed of.
Hank (John Mack Brown) and Carl
(Clark Gable), two reporters, set out to investigate the gangland killings. When
Scorpio sees them hanging around his café, he hires Anne (Jean Harlow) as a
cashier to interest them in her and keep them away from him. Six leading
businessmen, a group of reformers known only as "The Secret Six," ask Hank to
get evidence against the gang. He finds the gun which Scorpio used for his
killing, but is followed when discovered. Anne learns that he has the
murder weapon and catches up with him on a subway train. Her attempt to
warn him proves useless, since he is murdered. Angered by the murder, Anne
cooperates with the law in bringing Scorpio to trial, but Scorpio is acquitted
by a fixed jury and has her kidnapped. Carl learns where Anne is being
held but is captured himself when he arrives there. The reformers and the police
raid the hideout while Carl gets Anne to safety. Scorpio attempts to flee with
Newton (Lewis Stone), his lawyer and the brains of the organization. In an
argument over splitting the cash they are carrying, Scorpio shoots Newton who,
before he dies, repays Scorpio in kind.
Jean's first film with Gable and
Beery. Both Jean and Gable were to become two of Hollywood's biggest stars only
a year later.
What the critics said about
The Secret Six:
New York Times (Mordaunt Hall)
"Jean Harlow, the ash-blonde of several other such tales, once again appears as
the girl in the case...The picture moves along swiftly and the dialogue is quite
New York Daily Mirror (Bland Jobaneson)
Jean Harlow plays Beery's girl friend, a plausible character softened by
love for the reporter...The Secret Six is another neat gang melodrama,
New York Post (Thornton Delehanty)
"The picture is unusually well directed and it moves with a pulsating speed...The
acting, too, is generally on a high level."