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John Payne always felt that he delivered his best screen performance in The Boss. Set in the years following WW1, the story concerns a small-town veteran named Matt Brady (John Payne), whose brother, machine politician Tim Brady (Roy Roberts), arranges for Matt to get a cushy government job. When Tim dies, Matt takes over his operation, eventually assuming control of the entire state (which judiciously remains unnamed in the film). Though a successful power broker, Matt is unable to win the woman he loves (Doe Avedon), so he settles for another (Gloria McGhee) whom he treats atrociously. A falling out with his best friend/severest critic Bob Herrick (William Bishop) sets the stage for the ruthless Brady's inevitable downfall. Though all the names were changed to protect the guilty, audiences in 1956 were quick to perceive that the film was a thinly disguised attack on the Pendergast machine of Kansas City, Missouri. Coproduced and cowritten by John Payne, The Boss falters only in its overreliance upon anachronistic newsreel footage. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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