Bad Guy (1937)

US / 69 minutes / bw / MGM Dir: Edward Cahn (i.e., Edward L. Cahn) Pr: Tom Reed Scr: Earl Felton, Harry Ruskin Story: J. Robert Bren, Kathleen Shepard, Hal Long Cine: Lester White Cast: Bruce Cabot, Virginia Grey, Edward Norris, Jean Chatburn, Cliff Edwards, Charley Grapewin, G. Pat Collins, Warren Hymer, John Hamilton, Clay Clement, Russell Hopton, Garry Owen, Roy Gordon

A fairly standard crime programmer with more than a touch of noirish nihilism and an interesting lecture in the middle—complete with graphic demonstrations!—on the properties of high-voltage electricity. Don’t tell me that 1930s movies had anything but the highest educational aspirations.

Linemen/linesmen (the screenplay uses both forms of the term) “Lucky” Walden (Cabot) and Steve Carroll (Norris) have been partners repairing power  lines for a dozen years, but they go back ‘way further than that. Once they were best buddies in the orphanage together, and they regard each other not just as friends but as brothers.

Bruce Cabot as Lucky

One day Lucky, addicted to gambling, lashes out with a wrench in an altercation with a crooked gambler, Charlie Edwards (Hopton). Edwards Continue reading

Woman Unafraid (1934)

US / 58 minutes / bw / Goldsmith Dir: William J. Cowan (i.e., William J. Cowen) Pr: Ken Goldsmith, George E. Kann Scr: Mary E. McCarthy Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Lucile Gleason, Skeets Gallagher, Lona Andre, Warren Hymer, Barbara Weeks, Laura Treadwell, Ruth Clifford, Eddie Phillips, Jason Robards Sr., Erin La Bissoniere, Franklin Parker, Baby Waring, Richard Elliott, Julie Kingdon, Joyce Coad, Florence Wix, George Guhl, Henry Hall, James T. Mack.

Woman Unafraid - 0 opener

It wasn’t all that often that 1930s crime dramas got the balance between drama and humor right—usually you wish they’d just skipped the cringeworthy humor and had a shorter movie—but sometimes they managed to integrate the two elements perfectly. Some of the lines here are laugh-out-loud funny; elsewhere there are moments of genuine, non-bathetic (well, only a bit bathetic) poignancy; and there’s a likeable, entirely admirable heroine to bind everything together.

Augusta Winthrop (Gleason) is a middle-aged cop with a big heart: she’s a universal aunt. A principal duty of hers is to attend the dancehouse run by Tom Brady (Elliott) to make sure none of the dancers are getting so frisky as to commit public indecency, and also of course to check that none of the taxi dancers are offering more than dances. There are flies in her ointment, not least that Mrs. Eleanor Worthington (Treadwell), the self-appointed President of the Girls’ Protective League, has a habit of calling by on the lookout for “outrages.” Ironically, another problem for Augusta is that Eleanor’s nephew, Anthony Desmond (Gallagher), arrives at the club most nights in a skunklike state—a condition in which his hands become . . . venturesome. As one of the taxi dancers remarks of his latest performance on the dancefloor, “That guy ought to be a chiropractor.”

Tonight Augusta has been Continue reading