Friday, November 30, 2001


What an odd little movie! Bogart, in his pre-star days, plays the promoter of a wrestler (Nat Pendleton) who sets up a fight between Pendleton and a female blacksmith (Louise Fazenda). The wrestler and the blacksmith fall in love and Pendleton refuses to fight her; instead he has to wrestle a rival for the woman's love--played by a very hairy actor named Daniel Boone Savage who, according to IMDb had no other roles in the history of film. It's set in a "hillbilly" town and there are occasional bursts of song and dance for no particular reason. The backwoods music reminded me of the music in OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU, except played for laughs instead of authenticity. Penny Singleton plays Bogie's long suffering girl friend, in a relationship like the one between Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide in GUYS AND DOLLS. All this and Bogart playing comedy (and he seems palably uneasy here) really does make this an unusual movie--not a must-see, by any means, but, er, well, unique.

Two of my favorite Warner Brothers stock players are paired up here, as they were frequently throughout the decade: Allen Jenkins and Frank McHugh. The two settled into predictable bits by the late 30's, but I've enjoyed both in earlier films: Jenkins in THE MERRY FRINKS, McHugh in ONE WAY PASSAGE and the two together in TOMORROW AT SEVEN and HAVANA WIDOWS. McHugh added a nice touch to B movies like SNOWED UNDER and MOONLIGHT MURDER, but he's probably best remembered as Bing Crosby's buddy/fellow priest in GOING MY WAY.

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