Saturday, May 20, 2006


Likeable second-feature starring my latest B-movie fave William Lundigan (see APACHE TRAIL). Set in Brooklyn ("the melting plot of the world," according to the opening narration), the predictable story centers on the denizens of a boarding house that caters strictly to boxers in training, and therefore, according to the rules set down by J. Carroll Naish, no dames allowed!--except for Ma (Connie Gilchrist) who runs the house and looks after the boys. The trouble starts when Gilchrist lets her visiting niece (Jean Rogers) sneak into the place; she's a chorus girl who hasn't had any real breaks yet and when Gilchrist decides the girl is getting a bit jaded, she insists that Rogers stay with her for a while. The boxers come to accept her, and one (Lundigan), who is considering entering medical school, falls for her. However, the young Swedish janitor (Dan Dailey) is also enamored of Rogers, and when it's discovered that the untutored Daily has some raw boxing talent (a "Sunday punch," which apparently is a wild knockout swing), he is taken up by aging manager Guy Kibbee. Dailey and Lundigan become relatively friendly rivals in and out of the ring, but when Rogers' career takes off, the rivalry heats up, leading to a climactic bout with Rogers in the audience. She's rooting for Dailey because she thinks that if Lundigan loses, he would go back to school and maybe settle down with her. There are few surprises in the storyline, but the colorful characters are engaging, as are the actors playing them. The two leading men are both quirkily handsome, and do OK in the ring, though both seem a little too lightweight to be playing scrappy boxers. Sam Levene is amusing as the chief trainer, and Leo Gorcey and Rags Ragland make for colorful support. Rogers is the weak link; she looks fine but is not convincing as a world-weary would-be gold digger. Dane Clark and Ava Gardner, in their pre-star days, have bit parts. I quite enjoyed this sweet-natured comedy. [TCM]

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