Friday, December 14, 2001


A strange, compelling, though sometimes ridiculous pre-Code melodrama. Regis Toomey, who for most of his career was relegated to supporting roles, stars as a peppy, handsome, reliable railroad worker. Mary Astor, sexy yet sweet, is his wife, always at work in the kitchen or garden. Into their happy life comes Grant Withers, a rough & tumble co-worker of Toomey's. Withers ends up living with the couple and, rather suddenly, comes on to Astor. Toomey finds out and when they fight, Toomey winds up blinded. Later, during a flood, Withers tries to play hero getting a train over a wrecked bridge, but the blind Toomey (in a memorable scene) risks his life instead. There's humor and pathos and a surprisingly sexy spark here and there. Joan Blondell is sassy as a waitress and Jimmy Cagney has a small part that he plays with much energy. The plot has a few interesting twists; no one seems to be at fault for the way things work out--before the fateful fight, Withers was planning on leaving rather than keep tempting fate by being close to Astor. No one seems quite noble enough for this to be elevated to the status of tragedy, but it is an interesting and memorable movie, and a great example of the kind of tough little movie that Warner Brothers specialized in back then.