Sunday, December 14, 2008


Warners wasn’t the only studio to do B-level remakes of earlier A-level films. This MGM second feature is a variation on the oft-told story of boyhood pals who take different life paths and wind up on opposite sides of the law. It's an official remake of MANHATTAN MELODRAMA, though lots of other movies have used that inspiration unofficially. Instead of a gangster-ridden big city, the buddies grow up in the Yukon, where they are orphaned after an Indian attack. Mountie sergeant Jack Holt takes them both in; Jim grows up wanting to follow in Holt's footsteps, but Blackie, when still a snot-nosed kid, tries his hand at John Carradine's saloon and gambling club. He loses big but catches the fever and takes off for parts unknown. Years later, Jim (William Lundigan) is a clean-cut Mountie still living with his dad when gambling dandy Blackie (James Craig, pictured above) comes back to town. At the local club, Craig (with the help of his friend Keenan Wynn) catches Carradine cheating, gets the best of him, and wins ownership of the club, which of course makes Carradine an enemy for life. Patricia Dane, a singer at the saloon, cozies up to Craig, but soon finds herself attracted to Lundigan. The old friends still get along, but problems arise when Craig brawls with deadbeat Grant Withers; Withers is accidentally killed, Lundigan's investigation comes to naught, and Carradine blackmails Craig, getting the saloon back. Then he threatens to get Lundigan in trouble for covering up evidence which implicated Craig. As in the original movie, Craig sacrifices himself for Lundigan's honor. If you read this blog regularly, you know Lundigan and Craig are two of my favorite B-movie leads, so I found this to be a fun way to spend an hour, even if the storyline is predictable. Dana is too bland as the leading lady (and luckily winds up with little to do), but it was fun to see 11-year-old Darryl Hickman as the young Blackie. Hugh Beaumont (TV's Ward Cleaver) has a small role. [TCM]

No comments: