Wednesday, September 20, 2006


This appears to be George Reeves' 21st century cultural moment: Ben Affleck plays him in a current big-budget film (Hollywoodland) and seasons of the Superman TV show are being released on DVD. I got the season one boxed set for my birthday and, coincidentally as we're making our way through the shows, TCM aired this little-seen B-film which features Reeves in one of his few leading roles. Contrary to what you might think from his Superman persona, he's charming and frothy and does as good a job at romantic second-feature lead as any other B-leading man of the time. Though the movie itself (a small town romantic triangle) isn't that good, it's because of the writing, not because of Reeves. The real problem with the short film is that it feels like two different movies, or more to the point, like the pilot of a so-so TV show, followed by an early episode. In the first half, Rosemary Lane is engaged to the colorless but socially connected John Eldredge, but she obviously prefers the handsomer, hunkier George Reeves, even though he's a glib tongued flatterer for whom a career is not a high priority. His rich uncle (Oscar O'Shea) is tired of supporting him and Lane's folks are in Eldredge's corner, but still Reeves manages to win Lane's hand, partly by fast talking Eldredge out of the very idea of marriage. In the second half, Reeves is still out of a job and O'Shea refuses to foot any more of their bills; Reeves goes to the mayor hoping for an appointive position, but the mayor and his cronies, thinking Reeves is a simpleton, agree to pay his bills if he'll run against the mayor in the forthcoming election, providing what they hope will be an easy win for the mayor. Instead, Reeves decides to take politics seriously and launches a real run, using his rhetorical gifts to run on a platform of "Here's why you shouldn't vote for me." The outcome is predictable. Reeves is quite good, the only real reason to see the movie. He's funny and completely believable as a fast talking but well intentioned bumpkin who isn't really a bumpkin. Lane is so-so, running at fairly low energy, and the plotting and dialogue could be stronger--the last five minutes or so are particularly weak. But I'm glad to have seen this other side of George Reeves, and I'd definitely recommend this to Reeves fans. Heaven knows where they got the title from. [TCM]

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