Saturday, June 03, 2006


Intermittently interesting B-melodrama which on the surface resembles Barbara Stanwyck's earlier THE MIRACLE WOMAN. The plot of this one actually has more potential, but the low budget and limited resources of the actors don't allow it to come to fruition. Sally Eilers stars as a chorus girl working as a hostess in a gambling club; we see her scamming boozing businessman Cecil Kellaway so he'll keep buying drinks and spending money at the tables. She also seems to be involved with the gangsterish club owner (Robert Gleckler), though the extent of her involvement is unclear. Lee Bowman is the rich man she left at the altar (we find out later that she did in at the request of Bowman's father); he's taken to drinking to forget the hurt. Ann Miller is Eilers' buddy, a singer at the club; Paul Guilfoyle, a bouncer, is Miller's boyfriend. When the club gets raided, Eilers, Miller, and Guilfoyle look for other jobs but are blacklisted by the law (Jonathan Hale is the obsessed cop who seems to spend all his time dogging them from city to city; rejected suitor Bowman also follows her around). The trio wind up partaking of free coffee and donuts at a Salvation Army-style storefront, and Eilers gets the bright idea of becoming a faith-healing evangelist, using planted fake cripples in the audience to cure. She's very successful and when Hale threatens to blow their cover, she admits to her sordid past, which gets her more publicity and makes her even more successful. Eilers gets on the good side of rich widow Alma Kruger who wants her to take over the running of a children's charity hospital, and Eilers is suddenly torn between doing good and keeping up the scam. The finale involves a attempted theft of Kruger's jewels, and a real cripple who finds himself cured by Eilers, making her question her entire situation. Eilers, who played mostly supporting roles in the mid-1930's, is good here, particularly when she adopts her husky-voiced evangelist persona. Miller and Guilfoyle provide strong support, but Bowman is saddled with a nothing role and he can't do much with it. Miller, in the days before she became an MGM musicals regular, gets one song and dance number, "It's the Doctor's Orders," which is unmemorable except when it rhymes "coma" with "diploma." [TCM]

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