Monday, July 29, 2013


This had a lot of potential to be interesting to me: a little-known B-movie which has generated very little comment, a lead actor I'd never heard of, and a left-field focus on the illegal "hired car" business. Things do start off well: it opens "cute" with young layabout playboy heir Charles Lang being kicked out of his penthouse apartment because he’s been judged incompetent. His chauffeur and faithful buddy Paul Guilfoyle goes out job-hunting with him. Cute scene #2: looking for a job at Federated Bus Line, Lang gives a boot in the ass to a mechanic working under a car who turns out to be Fay Wray, who is also the boss's daughter. Based on his experience, Guilfoyle gets a job as a bus driver but Lang is turned away. He winds up with a job as a wildcat driver, someone who charges passengers to ride in his car from one city to another, but who isn't officially licensed as a bus or cab driver. We soon discover that his boss, Don Costello, is using underhanded tricks, like tampering with the buses to cause accidents, to drive Federated out of business. It takes a while, but eventually Lang realizes what's going on, and after Guilfoyle is seriously injured in one of the arranged wrecks, Lang teams up with Wray to put the wildcatters out of business.

I wanted to like this, but after a promising 15 minutes, it peters out due to so-so performances and a disjointed narrative, like someone took every other page out of the script to shorten the running time. To its credit, it does move quickly and the last 10 minutes, involving a bit of vigilante justice, play out well. Lang (pictured at right) looks like a 40s Tab Hunter and does an OK job with his comic bits, but is not a heroic type. He has little chemistry with Wray who does the best she can with an inconsistent character—sometimes cold, sometimes sympathetic. Guilfoyle is fine, as is Leona Roberts as Ma Talbot, the kindly old washwoman who is actually the brains behind the wildcatters. Not a total waste of time, but not the quirky gem I was hoping for. [TCM]

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