My first Edward G. Robinson movie I reviewed on The INCspotlight, The Whole Town's Talking, wasn't exactly his best (despite a great performance on his part). The crime drama Bullets or Ballots is a much better outing for him.
As America suffers under the grip of a nationwide crime syndicate, New York City publisher Ward Bryant (Henry O'Neill) uses the power of the press to try and smash the rackets. For his efforts, he's murdered by gunsel Nick "Bugs" Fenner (Humphrey Bogart), against the specific orders of his boss, Al Kruger (Barton MacLane). As Kruger fears, Bryant's death prompts tougher action, beginning with Captain Dan McLaren of the NYPD being appointed police commissioner, on the condition that he get to keep his activities a secret to prevent leaks. McLaren's first step is kicking corrupt officers off the force, and one of them is his old friend Johnny Blake (Edward G. Robinson). Blake was once a cop so tough, crooks would tip their hats to him when they saw him as a token of respect. Not only that, but Blake's word is his bond, even to a criminal. However, Blake made too many enemies in high places and was given minor cases to deal with. Now he's been booted off the force for "inefficiency." Blake gets himself in even more trouble when he runs into McLaren at a boxing match and can't resist throwing a punch of his own.