Sunday, April 22, 2012


George Montgomery has married well, into the family of industrialist Thurston Hall, but he’s not happy as a do-nothing vice-president, and he’s just as unhappy with his wife to whom he is more or less separated.  When he expresses his frustrations, she tells him that, on his own, he couldn’t even land a job as a ditch-digger, so that’s what he sets out to do.  Not only does he eventually get a relief-project job digging ditches, he becomes friends with the boss (J. Carroll Naish) who lets him crash in his family’s small apartment.  He also grows fond of Osa Massen, Naish’s lovely neighbor.  They don’t realize that he’s rich and he doesn’t realize that when they complain about their slum landlord, it’s his father-in-law.  Soon, Naish and his friends have convinced Montgomery to represent them in a meeting with Hall; he sneaks Hall into Naish’s place for an evening to show him what the buildings are like, but soon all of Montgomery’s deceptions blow up in his face.  Can he get Hall to do the right thing, get his wife to give him a divorce, and get Naish and Massen to trust him again?

This is a very cute Capraesque romantic comedy with built-in social responsibility lessons.  The working class and immigrants are romanticized, there’s a lot of talk about the wonders of democracy, and it’s certainly not a spoiler to note that the wealthy finally see the errors of their ways.  I’ve become a fan of Montgomery in his 40s films (CHINA GIRL, ROXIE HART) and he’s handsome and robust here—even getting a couple of beefcake shots including one scene in which he races across a busy street in his underwear—and makes a perfect B-movie Capra hero (effective but a notch below James Stewart, Clark Gable, or Gary Cooper).  Massen is rather bland, but Naish is better, though at times his exaggerated ethnicity is laid on a bit too thick.  There are plotholes—why Naish thinks the lily-white all-American Montgomery is a fellow immigrant is beyond me—but it’s a fun little hour-long filler.  [FMC]  

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