Archive for March 16th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(USA 1931 89m) DVD1

Raising sex to a dignified attitude

p  Hal B.Wallis  d  Mervyn le Roy  w  Byron Morgan, Robert Lord  play  Louis Weitzenkorn  ph  Sol Polito  ed  Frank Ware  art  Jack Okey

Edward G.Robinson (Randall), Marian Marsh (Jenny Townsend), H.B.Warner (Michael Townsend), Anthony Bushell (Philip Weeks), George E.Stone (Ziggy Feinstein), Ona Munson (Kitty Carmody), Aline MacMahon (Miss Taylor), Boris Karloff (T.Vernon Isopod), Oscar Apfel (Hinchecliffe), Frances Starr (Nancy Vorhees Townsend), Purnell Pratt (French), Robert Elliott (Brannegan), Harold Waldridge (Arthur Goldberg), David Torrence (Arthur Weeks), Evelyn Hall (Isobel Weeks), William H.Strauss (Jerry),

A film that begins and ends as if in perpetuum, with credits and fade out accompanied not by the traditional Warner library music but a cacophony of newspaper sellers crying “extra, extra”, “read all about it” and other such guttural clichés.  This is the newspaper business as only the pre-code could show it and it’s a stereotype perpetuated most of all at Warners, whether via the gossip columns of Lee Tracy in Blessed Event, the morgue chasers of Frank McHugh in The Mystery of the Wax Museum, or even Tracy again in Doctor X.  Most of Warners’ repertory played news hounds at some time or other and this was Robinson’s time and one of the definitive roles of its time.

            Robinson is Randall, editor of the muck-raking tabloid the New York Evening Gazette, which he tries to turn into a newspaper only to be dragged down into the gutter every time by his bosses out to boost circulation at any costs.  He toes the party line, if reluctantly, and sets out to reopen interest in a 20 year old murder case centring round Nancy Vorhees, who killed her lover and was left with a baby without a father.  What Randall doesn’t know is that Nancy has lived an honest life since, married to a financier called Michael Townsend, who walked out on his disapproving family to marry her, and that her daughter Jenny is now engaged to a Michael of her own, Philip, who is also prepared to let his snob Park Avenue parents disinherit him.  (more…)

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