Tight Shoes a.k.a. "Damon Runyon's Tight Shoes"
Universal Pictures

Directed by Albert S. Rogell
Written by Leonard Spigelgas and Art Arthur
Based on the story by Damon Runyan
A Jules Levey (Mayfair) Production

Released June 11, 1941

     'Tight Shoes' retains the strong flavor of Damon Runyon's wit and comedy, specifically the New Yorkese brand of slang so ably expounded to the American public through Runyon's syndicated column.  Picture's a whirlwind laugh-getter studded with hilarious episodes rolling along at a zippy pace.

     John Howard is a struggling shoe clerk who fits ward leader Broderick Crawford with a pair of tight shoes a latter's insistence.  The misfits institute numerous complications.  Crawford gets a hunch to switch bets on horses at the track; is discredited by the political boss and upbraided by his showgirl sweetheart, Binnie Barnes.  He buys the shoe store to install a hideaway dice game in the rear, and fires the responsible shoe clerk.  But Howard, egged on by city editor Richard Lane, exposes the underworld connection of the councilman up for re-election; gets plenty of publicity to run for office, beat the machine and have Crawford tossed out of power.  

     Both the undercover boss and Miss Barnes take up with Howard, his head is temporarily turned, but he comes down to earth in time to marry sweetheart Anne Gwynne in a ceremony preceded by one of the most spontaneous fights lined up in many a day



John Howard

Binnie Barnes

Broderick Crawford

Anne Gwynne ... Ruth

Leo Carrillo

Shemp Howard


Leonard Spigelgas and Art Arthur- Writers

Damon Runyan- Original Story

Albert S. Rogell- Director 

Jules Levy- Producer

Woody Bredell- Cinematographer

Otto Ludwig- Editor

Full Storyline

Allan McGrath, editor of the Star-Dispatch , is having dinner with a group of newspapermen, when one complains of "tight shoes," prompting Alan to tell them the story of Jimmy Rupert and Speedy Miller. With election time rolling around, the district attorney had gone after New York's gambling houses, but he was unable to find the den of Speedy Miller, and therefore, was unable to uncover the political boss known only as "The Brain," who protects Speedy.

The Brain tells Speedy that he must set up more games in his district, in order to make up for their losses in other areas. Speedy is then given $5,000 to bet on a fixed horse race. Speedy and his hoods, Blooch and Okay, go to Amalfi's shoe store, where they force the proprietor to sell out, as they plan to make the store the "front" for their new gambling house. Before they leave, however, Blooch ruins Speedy's shoes, and when he forces clerk Jimmy Rupert to serve him, the two argue over Speedy's shoe size.

Jimmy later complains to his girl friend Ruth (Anne Gwynne) that even though he is a college graduate, he makes so little money they cannot get married. At the race track, Speedy, who is now suffering from "tight shoes," bets on a long shot hunch named Feet First instead of sure thing Pam's Mam, and loses all his money when Feet First is disqualified. His girl friend, show girl Sybil Ash, becomes so upset that she kicks him, and he punches her in the jaw in return. Speedy blames his loses on Jimmy and orders him fired from Amalfi's.

Jimmy then complains to Ruth about the crooked politicians like "Honest John" Beebe, who allow men like Speedy to run the city. McGrath overhears Jimmy and takes him to one of Beebe's political rallies. At the rally, Jimmy challenges the crooked politician and ends up leading a raid on Amalfi's. A riot breaks out, and Sybil and Ruth are arrested in the midst of the madness. With the help of McGrath and the district attorney, Jimmy is nominated to run against Beebe. Unknown to McGrath, this is contrary to the desires of his boss, Horace Grover, the managing editor of his paper, who is, in actuality, The Brain.

Later, Jimmy is met at his home by a group of reporters, and Ruth and Sybil are present as well. When Sybil learns that Jimmy is the one who sold Speedy his "tight shoes," she offers him her full support. While Grover blocks McGrath's efforts, Sybil's work on the young man's behalf turns the election. Jimmy's success soon goes to his head, but he still proclaims his love to Ruth. She, however, sees him turning toward Sybil and Grover, and rejects him.

The now down-and-out Speedy goes to Amalfi for help, and the retailer hires the ex-gangster as a clerk. Jimmy and Sybil become engaged, and Amalfi orders Speedy to take a pair of shoes to the new councilman for his wedding. Speedy deliberately selects takes a pair of "tight shoes," the box for which Ruth assumes is a bomb. When Sybil sees Speedy at the church, she asks him to give her away and he agrees. After he delivers the shoes, however,

Speedy is knocked out by Ruth, who explains to Sybil her conviction about the "bomb." The two women start fighting, with Jimmy in the middle. After Sybil strikes both Ruth and Jimmy, he throws her into a flower arrangement. Speedy then awakens, but before he can strike Jimmy, he is stopped by Grover, whom he exposes as The Brain. While Grover exits with the district attorney, the two couples begin fighting, and eventually become reunited and married as originally intended.


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