Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A dysfunctional father-son story, disguised as a gangster movie. Tyrone Power is the privileged son of rich businessman Edward Arnold. When Arnold is indicted for embezzlement and sent to jail, Power drops out of his Ivy League college out of embarrassment. Power tells his father off and Arnold disowns him (figuratively, if not literally, by saying he'll never give his son another thought as long as he lives). Power tries to get a job, but finds his family name a disadvantage. A year later, when a big shot gangster (Lloyd Nolan) who went to jail the same time as Arnold gets out ahead of schedule, Power goes to Nolan's shyster lawyer (Charley Grapewin) for help getting Arnold out, but instead Power winds up working for Nolan, under the ridiculous fake name of Johnny Apollo. Power and Arnold start to reconcile, but when Arnold finds out that Power is working for a thug and a shyster, he disowns his son a second time. Dorothy Lamour is a nightclub singer who hangs with the bad guys; she and Power take a shine to each other. Grapewin decides to turn a new leaf and rat on Nolan, making a deal with the cops that will let Power off the hook for any shady activity, but after Nolan kills Grapewin, both he and Power are both sent to prison, of course, the same prison where Arnold is being kept. Lamour pleas with Arnold to take his son back, and the exciting finale involves an attempted escape which goes awry. Unfortunately, a weak happy coda ends the movie on a false note. All the actors are fine, with Lamour showing more depth than she is able to in the "Road" movies that she is remembered for. She even gets a glitzy little musical number, "Dancing for Nickels and Dimes." Grapewin is also able to flesh out his character more than usual, and Lionel Atwill and Marc Lawrence are both fine in smaller roles. Nolan is realistically nasty and charming in turn, and Power manages to come off as more than just a callow spoiled youth (and it doesn't hurt that we get to see Power's physique early on when he's participating in a college rowing meet). Arnold is especially good at making a potentially cardboard character rounder and more sympathetic than he might have been. [FMC]

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