Four bank employees embezzle money and play the market during those last feverish investment months of mid-1929--in a...

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THE BIG BOYS

Four bank employees embezzle money and play the market during those last feverish investment months of mid-1929--in a pint-sized farce that's been stretched out to slow, predictable, 300-page length. The bank is the Puritan Bank & Trust in quiet Riverside, Mass., and the embezzlers (all operating unbeknownst to each other) are at every level: young teller Freddie Mayhew steals deposits, invests in Radio Corp. of America, and dreams of owning a radio station; aging teller Hannah Winthrop steals from savings accounts, invests in Fisk Rubber, and needs $5000 to get plastic surgery on her harelip; 57-year-old treasurer Jonathan Keep juggles the books, invests in railroads, and yearns to be president of his own bank; and Puritan president Henry Hopkins ""borrows"" from his own bank so he can make enough in the market to pay his rich, nagging wife the $200,000 he owes her. Eventually, of course, the four embezzlers find out about each other--but though they plan at first to return all they've filched, Hopkins (who's gotten a hot tip from one of the ""Big Boys,"" super-speculator C. F. Bennett) then persuades them to band together to keep investing. . . even after some signs that the market is teetering. Only, in fact, when ex-Pres. Coolidge himself (Hopkins' old school chum) turns bearish does Hopkins finally decide to sell--but a car-crash keeps him from pulling out in time. The foursome is wiped out; Hopkins' plan to wangle a $200,000 bribe from a social-climbing bootlegger fizzles; and so the embezzlers finally try to cover their thefts by robbing their own bank. . . on the same night that real robbers strike. A thinly contrived caper, then--which might be agreeable fluff in light, comic hands. Here, however, with plodding prose, unlikable characters, and blatant padding (lists of 1929 songs and movies; gratuitous sex scenes), the effect is blandly unfunny and mostly tiresome.

Pub Date: June 22, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1981