June 2014


Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


BRITISH INTELLIGENCE. Warner Brothers, 1940. Boris Karloff, Margaret Lindsay, Bruce Lester, Leonard Mudie, Holmes Herbert, Austin Fairman. Director: Terry O. Morse.

   British Intelligence is a spy film/thriller starring Boris Karloff. He portrays a mysterious, facially scarred, government agent who, under the name Valdar, poses as a French butler in the home of Arthur Bennett, a high-ranking British official.

   Based on Three Faces East, a play from 1918 by Anthony Paul Kelly, it’s a fun, albeit not overly sophisticated, spy film with a copious array of characters and a particularly a compelling performance by Karloff. There’s some rather good use of shadow and lighting and enough plot twists condensed into an hour’s running time to keep you guessing what’s going to happen next.

   Although released toward the beginning of what was to become the Second World War, British Intelligence is actually set during the First World War. Britain is at war with a bellicose, expansionist Germany which seems to be as much Hitler’s Germany as the Kaiser’s.

   But that’s not all that important. What’s significant is that there are spies — many of them, it would appear — afoot and up to no good in England’s capital city. And it’s up to Britain’s intelligence services that are tasked with rooting them out to protect war plans from falling into the hands of the enemy.

   Although the plot takes several turns before coming to its resolution, the set up is as follows: British aviator Frank Bennett (portrayed by the South African-born Bruce Lester) is shot down over France. Recovering in a British field hospital, he is tended to by an affectionate nurse (Margaret Lindsay) who, just a scene later, is seen in the company of particularly Prussian-looking German army officers.

   Apparently, the good nurse is actually a German spy by the name of Helene Von Lorbeer. Her mission is to go to London and serve in the household of Arthur Bennett (Holmes Herbert), father of the aforementioned wounded Frank. The characters portrayed by two leads — Karloff and Lindsay — of course meet up in the Bennett household. For a while at least, it seems as if Valdar is a German spy as well. As you might imagine, Frank Bennett eventually returns home to London only to find his supposed nurse living in his family home, precipitating a series of events which eventually culminate in the destruction of the local Germany spy ring.

   Although Lindsay is good, it’s Karloff who really steals the show in this one. It’s a much better role for him than as the genial scientist in Night Key, for instance, reviewed here. There’s a great scene (around the 24-25 minute mark) in which we see the shadowy face of Valdar (Karloff) while he’s snooping through Arthur Bennett’s office. It’s a reminder of how much an exceptional actor can convey with a facial expression and what good directors and cinematographers can do with lighting.

   Although British Intelligence may not be ranked among the best spy movies, it is still a quite good film. There are no major plot holes, the acting is above average, and the story is fairly solid. More importantly, it gives the contemporary viewer a brief window into the mindset of Englishmen who, in 1940, were once again faced with a mortal strategic foe in Germany. In the film’s final scene, Colonel James Yates (Leonard Mudie) sums up the likely attitude of many of Britain’s citizens at the time: “We fight wars only because we crave peace so ardently. But always in the strange scheme of things, some maniac with a lust for power arises . . .”

   Who in the audience wouldn’t have gotten the reference? If the message needed to be clearer, Yates ends the film in dialogue with Arthur Bennett, telling him that when war comes, England will of course fight. It’s worth watching.

SPECIAL AGENT K-7. C.C.Burr Productions/Puritan Pictures, 1936. Walter McGrail, Queenie Smith, Irving Pichel, Donald Reed, Willy Castello, Duncan Renaldo, Joy Hodges. Director: Bernard B. Ray, as Raymond K. Johnson.

   As the story goes, and forgive me if I have this wrong, this rather obscure B-movie of the detective mystery variety was to be the first of several films that were to be made featuring its star, Walter McGrail in the role of Vincent ‘Lanny’ Landers, otherwise known as Special Agent K-7, but none of the others were ever made. The film was also supposed be based on a well-known radio program of the day, according to PR releases at the time, but no one today knows what radio show they had in mind, if any.

   The mystery itself isn’t all that bad. A night club owner (crooked, of course) is killed in his office soon after being the beneficiary of a hung jury (paid for, again of course). There are plenty of possible suspects, including the newly married husband of tough-as-nails female reporter Olive O’Day (with polish). Immediately on hand to offer assistance are Lanny Landers and Lester Owens (Irving Pichel) , the noted attorney who had just gotten the dead man his illicit hung jury verdict.

   But even though there are any number of possible other killers, including Duncan Renaldo’s character before his Cisco Kid days, I don’t think that anyone reading this will fail to spot the real culprit long before any of the characters in the story do.

   Other than that small disappointment, the movie was also hampered by a distinct lack of star power, although most of the players had long careers in making movies, and the lack of facial recognition on my part made it difficult to keep track of which player was which. Only Queenie Smith, who was still in movies as late as 1978, stands out amongst the faceless men in suits, ties and hats, even though some had mustaches and some not.

REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:         


JOHN MAIR – The Fourth Forger. Cobden Sanderson, UK, hardcover, 1938. The Macmillan Company,US, hardcover, 1939.

   Several years ago on this blog I reviewed John Mair’s witty, off-beat thriller Never Come Back. Subsequent to that, I learned that Mair had written only one other book before his untimely death in WWII, this non-fiction study of a young gent named William Ireland and a controversy over “newly discovered” writings by William Shakespeare — a controversy that became a scandal that stirred London in the 1790s.

   William Ireland was the son of Samuel Ireland, a prosperous collector and dealer in antiquities, and an avid Shakespeare enthusiast — he named his first son William, didn’t he? Every evening Samuel read to his children from the Bard, and this undoubtedly had an influence on William, but not so much as his father’s near-total indifference to him.

   Samuel casually dismissed his son as dull and stupid (which for a long time supported the case for the Shakespeare Forgeries, as William was considered totally incapable of writing them) and placed him as apprentice to a legal office where William found himself with little to do but sit in an office, surrounded all day by musty old parchments. Very old parchments.

   Here’s where Mair’s genius as a writer comes to the fore: Without disparagement or bathos, he evokes young William’s frustration and (probable) desperate need for his father’s approval, a need that drove him to seek out a suitably old scrap of parchment, draft a minor legal document in suitably antiquarian ink, and forge Shakespeare’s signature on it. When he presented this to Dad, William finally got a morsel of parental approbation — which left him hungry for more.

   You can probably anticipate the rest. William worked up a convincing (to his dad) cover story about a wealthy and conveniently anonymous benefactor who kept a steady trickle of “treasures” that grew ever more fabulous. There were other documents. Then letters. Then a Profession of Faith that “proved” Shakespeare was not Catholic. And on and on.

   William’s father Samuel began showing these to friends, then to authorities on the Bard, and they met with acceptance and even adulation, particularly the Profession of Faith, because it seemed to say what everyone wanted to hear.

   Flushed with success and his father’s long-withheld esteem, and convinced of his own genius, William went to the next step: An original manuscript of King Lear in the author’s own hand, differing from the original only in being more attuned to contemporary tastes.

   Needless to say, it was met by a public overjoyed to see that the writer they idolized actually catered to their own standards, and that anything objectionable must have been put there by later, inferior hands. Heady with success, William rushed into his next “discovery”: a lost play titled Vortigern.

   All this while of course, there were doubters. And William’s success/excess only made his work a larger target for analysis and debunking. Again, Mair does a fine job evoking the characters of the men who were actually right about the spurious nature of William Ireland’s Shakespeare Papers, but who were also mostly motivated by their own self-interest or idiosyncrasies. At the same time, he tells an intriguing and often poignant story of his father’s growing desperation as friends, fans and a fortune slipped from his grasp — all because of a son he publicly scorned.

   This story could have been duller than ditchwater, but author Mair imparts his own fluid narrative style and smart-ass sense of humor to liven it up delightfully. To take just on example, at one point the Poet Laureate of England enters the picture, a poet-magistrate named Henry James Pye, who had been of some service to the crown, whom Mair describes: “…the verse that he wrote in his leisure hours could not detract from his numerous public services…. [as Poet Laureate] Pye did his poetic duty to the public with the same remorseless competence as he administered justice to criminals. From his appointment in 1790 to his death twenty years later he never ceased to write verse and never began to write poetry.”

   Writing like this makes The Fourth Forger a pleasure to read, and I followed this account of scandal and hurt feelings avidly to the end. You may too.

CLINTON McKINZIE – Trial by Ice and Fire. Delacorte, hardcover, July 2003. Dell, paperback, March 2004.

   This is the third recorded appearance of Antonio Burns, who’s a special agent for Wyoming’s Division of Criminal Investigation, and while I may be wrong, I think I have the first two of them sorted out.

   First came The Edge of Justice (Delacorte, hc, 2002), followed by Point of Law (Dell, pb, April 2003). What’s confusing is that there was no hardcover edition of the second book, as far as I’ve been able to discern, and that the second book is described as the prequel to the first book.

   In any case, if you’re a fan of mysteries that take place in the wide open country and clear blue skies of the Rocky Mountain states, my hunch is that these are all books meant especially for you.

   Some backstory first. At a previous point in his past, Burns survived a shootout set-up by three bad guys, all of whom perished, gaining his nickname of QuickDraw as a consequence, not to mention plenty of unwanted notoriety. This incident has not endeared him with many of the higher echelons of the DCI.

   His drug-addicted brother Roberto is currently on the run, an escapee from a Colorado prison, trying to decide if he should make a deal with the authorities and give himself up. And Antonio’s girl friend from Denver is suddenly not talking to him, all the while he’s trying to protect a prosecutor with the Teton County Attorney’s office (young, pretty, female) from a stalker who may prove to be deadly.

   Antonio Burns’ own addiction seems to be mountain climbing, and while he seems to have superhuman powers of recovery and recuperation from days filled with snow-packed action and danger, I will settle for the armchair variety, thank you very very much.

   McKinzie tells the story in First Person, Present Tense, which to me sounds stilted and awkward, but (on the other hand) while I haven’t taken the time to analyze it fully, the narrative, jam-packed with the (aforementioned) action and danger, is intense enough to keep one up well past one’s bedtime several times over, and the format of the telling must have had something to do with it.

   There are several WOW’s that came up in the telling – a surprise or two or three that come along the way. Here’s a quote that I liked, not necessarily linked to any of the surprises, but I liked it anyway. From page 317:

   “My god.” The words slip out of my mouth in a tone of awe and reverence.

   The flames are gigantic. They claw and writhe hundreds of feet into the night sky. They fill the entire western horizon. And even though the fire is still a couple of miles away, across the summit and beyond a small valley, I can feel its hot, stinking breath on my face. It sucks then blows at me, respirating deeply like a bellows in its need for fuel. Suddenly this idea of Wokowski’s that we’ll ride it out in a paper-thin aluminum shelter is more than ludicrous – it’s suicidal. We are going to die.

   In terms of a detective story, if anyone is truly reading this one with that in mind, here’s where you might be judgmental and where any weakness might lie. Burns is only semi-dependable as to a judge of character. Perhaps there’s too much going on in his life at the time, and perhaps there are simply too few suspects, which is more than I should tell you right now, if you were to call me on it. But for a keener sense of place against a backdrop of inner turmoil and personal self-doubt, I do not believe you can find much better than this.

— May 2004

      The Antonio Burns series —

1. The Edge of Justice (2002)
2. Point of Law (2003)
3. Trial by Ice and Fire (2003)
4. Crossing the Line (2004)
5. Badwater (2005)

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


ALBUQUERQUE. Paramount Pictures, 1948. Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, George “Gabby” Hayes, Lon Chaney, Russell Hayden, Catherine Craig, George Cleveland. Based on the novel Dead Freight for Piute, by Luke Short. Director: Ray Enright.

   Albuquerque is an eminently watchable Western film starring Randolph Scott. Adapted to the big screen from a novel by Luke Short, Dead Freight for Piute, the film is compelling, albeit not particularly sophisticated, story about a family feud, mining, and freighting in pre-statehood New Mexico.

   There’s just enough of everything one would expect from a late 1940s Western: a hero in Scott, a goofy sidekick in George “Gabby” Hayes, and a villainess-turned-heroine in the beautiful Barbara Britton. Add in a semi-realistic setting, a budding romance or two, and a memorable, well-choreographed and surprisingly brutal fist fight between Scott and Lon Chaney Jr.’s character and you’ve got yourself a significantly better than average Western.

   The plot revolves around Scott in his portrayal of Cole Armin, who relocates to Albuquerque from Texas to work for his uncle, John Armin (a rather unforgettable villain as portrayed by George Cleveland), in the family freighting business. Turns out Cole’s uncle is crooked and is working to put the local competition, run by brother and sister, Ted and Celia Wallace, out of business. Did I mention the local lawman is on the take as well?

   Cole’s a good guy and he’s got a good sidekick in Juke (Hayes), so naturally he tells his uncle off and goes to work for the Wallaces in their fledgling freighting business.

   As one might suspect, this turn of events doesn’t please John Armin all that much, so he has his henchman, Steve Murkil, portrayed by an exceptionally well cast, black-hatted, Lon Chaney Jr., cigarette constantly dangling from his mouth, and a recent hire, Letty Tyler (Britton) to plot and to scheme against Cole and the Wallaces.

   All of this culminates in the aforementioned fight between Cole Armin and Steve Murkil, a harrowing horse and wagon ride down a mountaintop, and an abbreviated final showdown on the streets of Albuquerque. The good guys win, of course. This was a 1948 Western, not a 1968 one, so there’s really no surprises here.

   It is clear from watching Albuquerque is that Scott was beginning to outgrow films like these. No surprise, then, then within a decade, he’d be working with directors such as André de Toth and Budd Boetticher in more, shall we say, serious and engaging Western films.

   Still, Albuquerque is not without its charms. Cleveland and Chaney make a good pair of villains that you’re happy to both watch to see what they’ll do next and to root against. Still, when it’s all said and done, sometimes it’s still nice to see the good guy win the fight and save the day. That’s Albuquerque for you.

Editorial Comment:   For my own take on this film, check out this post from about three years ago.

REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:         


D.O.A. Buena Vista Pictures, 1988. Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Charlotte Rampling, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek, Christopher Neame, Brion James, Elizabeth Arlen. Directors: Annabel Jankel & Rocky Morton.

   Recently saw this 1988 remake of D.O.A. with Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Daniel Stern, Charlotte Rampling and a few other fine actors whose names escape me. This movie has been almost universally panned — Maltin calls it “noisy and needless” and even TV Guide found it “pointless” — but I thought it worked much better than the original, and thus once again shall wait for Fashion to catch up with me.

   The plot, lifted from the 1948 film, has the protagonist indulge in a night of heavy drinking and discover the next day that he’s been poisoned; he has only another day or so to live and nothing can save him. That’s it. He gonna die and ain’t nothing for it. Faced with this, he spends his last day finding his killer — the Detective and Victim as One.

   It’s a great idea, but the 1948 film s a surprisingly pedestrian affair, with little momentum and a flat performance by Edmund O’Brien as a schlemiel who just looks toodam healthy to be dying. All through the movie, I just couldn’t believe him.

   On the other hand, the 1988 remake offers a fine turn by Dennis Quaid as a popular, sexy college lit professor who wrote some fine books a few years back, got a remarkable woman to marry him when he was younger, and might have been a good teacher once, but now he just tosses flip answers back to his admiring students, gives them A’s without reading their work, and his wife is leaving him because he just doesn’t act like he cares anymore.

   Thematically, this is really neat-o; the man has been dead for years and doesn’t realize it till someone poisons him. Add to this a couple of nifty sub-plots, snappy dialogue, some gratuitous sex and violence (always a golden page in my book) and you’ve got the beginnings of a very textured work.

   Directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel throw in a lot of artsy camera angles left over from the 6Os, pace the action for speed, and take time to evoke surprisingly believable performances from even the bit players. My only kvetch is the number of obvious homages to film noir and the length of time it takes me to italicize a sentence like that: Quaid’s character is named Cornell, the film starts and ends in Black & White, and there are two cops whose line of hard-boiled patter rolls so smooth and well-timed they sound like bit-players in a sitcom.

   This aside, it was a film I really liked.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


THE TIME TRAVELERS. American International, 1964. Preston Foster, Philip Carey, Merry Anders, John Hoyt, Dennis Patrick, Joan Woodbury, Delores Wells, Steve Franken, Berry Kroeger. Screenwriter/director: Ib Melchior.

   The Time Travelers is a science fiction B-movie starring an assortment of character actors who were likely familiar to movie audiences at the time of its initial release, but who are less well remembered today.

   Although considerably dated in many ways, The Time Travelers remains a fun, albeit somewhat campy, low budget film about the possibilities and hazards of time travel. The film likewise provides a glimpse into an era before television shows such as Star Trek and Doctor Who brought these concepts to a wider audience.

   It begins with two scientists, a Teutonic-looking Dr. Erik von Steiner (Preston Foster) and Dr. Steve Connors (Philip Carey), along with their blonde female assistant, Carol White (Merry Anders), working in a Los Angeles university laboratory. What separates their workspace from others like it is a large window on the far end of the room. This window is designed to be the means by which the scientists, should their experiment work, can observe the future.

   Along comes a goofy technician named Danny McKee (Steve Franken, cousin to U.S. Senator Al Franken), who tells the scientists to end their experiment.

   It’s all too little, too late, of course. Something goes wrong. The group inadvertently creates not just a window, but also a portal, to the future. 2071 A.D., to be exact. (107 years forward from 1964). Suffice it to say, the future looks bleak. That, of course, doesn’t stop McKee from jumping through the portal into the foreboding landscape. The other three follow.

   Earth 2071 A.D. isn’t a particularly nice place to live. That’s the understatement of the year. A nuclear war has decimated the planet, leaving horrifying, mutant humanoids at ground level and a very small number of normal humans dwelling below ground.

   The underground human survivors are led by Dr. Varno, portrayed by John Hoyt wearing what appears to be a light blue jump suit of some sort. The colorful costumes, it should be noted, are just one of many aspects that make the film very much a product of the mid-1960s.

   In any case, Varno, along with the other survivors and an extremely creepy array of androids, are working on a plan to fly a spaceship to Alpha Centauri so as to build New Earth. Naturally, they plan to be in a state of suspended animation along the way. (It’s a long trip, after all.) Initially, the plan is for the stranded time travelers to accompany the survivors out beyond the stars.

   But, alas, that is not to be. A malicious politician, Councilman Willard (Dennis Patrick), ends that idea, forcing the four time travelers to rebuild their time machine. After a genuinely unsettling fight scene between mutants and androids, the four time travelers, along with Varno and others, end up returning to 1960s California, only to experience one of the paradoxes of time travel.

   It’s actually a clever little twist ending, one that I admittedly didn’t see coming. More significantly, it demonstrates that the filmmakers took science fiction tropes seriously. More to that point: well-known sci-fi guru Forrest J Ackerman makes a very brief cameo appearance.

   The Time Travelers may neither be a classic, nor a great film. But it’s far better than many other low budget science fiction of its time and significantly better than a lot of the science fiction cinema out there today. The movie definitely has its moments, such as when Dr. Varno states: “Time, itself, is an anachronism.”

   Silly at times, it’s worth watching, provided you know full well that you’re watching a B-movie designed to entertain rather than to provoke serious reflection and debate.

REVIEWED BY MARVIN LACHMAN:

ARTHUR B. REEVE – The Ear in the Wall. Hearst’s International, hardcover, 1916. Wildside Press, softcover, 2014.

   A successful but now nearly forgotten mystery writer is Arthur B. Reeve, whose Craig Kennedy, “the American Sherlock Holmes,” was once enormously popular in magazines, books, and movie adaptations. A recent reading of The Ear in the Wall shows how dated Reeve is, though nostalgia is still a reason to read him. (I am not recommending a steady diet, however.)

   Many of his attitudes, too, bespeak the bigotry of their time and would be unacceptable today. Likewise the use of “white slavery” as an important plot device. Among the criminals are those with wonderful, if archaic, names like “Dopey Jack” Rubano and “Ike the Dropper.” Then there are such gems of dialogue as You libertine!”

   Kennedy’s popularity was based on Reeve’s use of scientific inventions, some real and some imaginary, albeit plausible. Here, there are bugging devices like the “detectaphone,” as well as machines for identification, such as the vocaphone to provide “fingerprints of the human voice.” There are tools to identify typewriting, special cameras, and new blood tests, all part of “the warfare of science against crime which he [Kennedy] had been waging.”

   If Holmes had Irene Adler, Reeve has provided Kennedy with his version of THE Woman, though also without romance. On this case, Craig Kennedy works with a female detective, Clare Kendall. Reeve refers to her as the “new woman,” while calling Kennedy “the new man.” Also, notice the similarity of their names. When Clare goes willingly into danger, Kennedy calls her “one of the gamest girls I ever knew.” Kennedy then reassures his Watson, Walter Jameson, “Don’t worry, my boy. She’s not of the marrying kind, any more than I am.”

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 1991. (slightly revised and shortened).

THE CASE OF THE BLACK PARROT. Warner Brothers, 1941. William Lundigan, Maris Wrixon, Eddie Foy Jr., Paul Cavanagh, Luli Deste, Charles Waldron, Ernie Stanton. Based on the novel The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet, by Burton Stevenson. (Dodd Mead, 1912, but available online here.) Director: Noel M. Smith.

   I was disappointed with this one, beginning with the title, which I found misleading, though I suppose there’s no really good reason why I should have. For some reason, though, I was expecting a detective film with more of an exotic flavor than The Case of the Black Parrot turned out to be, something along the lines of a sinister Oriental thriller, perhaps, or even a case for a Charlie Chan wannabe that I hadn’t seen before.

   But no, this is a movie about a piece of furniture, a Boule cabinet, to be precise, and the Black Parrot is merely a criminal mastermind, albeit a notorious one. To quote from the movie itself:

    “Black because he’s a criminal, parrot because he imitates things, copies them … paintings, furniture, signatures.”

   A gentleman named Paul Vantine, a wealthy collector of antique furniture, is bringing the cabinet to the US from Europe, but not as an authentic Boule cabinet, but deliberately as a Black Parrot imitation, complete with the Parrot’s secret signature. It seems that the imitation is so good that the cabinet, although fake, is only going to go up in value. But the lights go out, as they so often do in movies like this, and when they come back on, it is discovered that the cabinet in question is a real one, not the Parrot’s work after all.

   Now this sounded promising to me, with all kinds of interesting directions the story could go from here, but alas, it turns out that the dealer who sold the cabinet to Vantine had only made an honest mistake – an expensive one, true – but a mistake to which he readily admits, and arrangements are made to correct the error.

   So back in the US again, why do two mysterious deaths occur? Add to the mix a pair of beautiful women, a shifty-looking butler, a dark figure climbing in and out of a window, a stash of embarrassing letters, a master of disguise, not to mention a blossoming romance between a reporter named Jim Moore (William Lundigan) and the rich collector’s niece (Maris Wrixon), much to the disgust of Jim Moore’s comical sidekick, a photographer named Tripod Daniels (Eddie Foy Jr.).

   I don’t disparage detectives having comical sidekicks in movies like this. Even Charlie Chan had them; they were expected, and they were always there. The larger disappointment comes in realizing how prosaic all this is, with too much plot, too much story in too short a time, too many characters doing too many strange things, some connected, some not, but all centered around a large ugly piece of furniture.

NOTE: The book the movie was based on has been reviewed online by BV Lawson online here. Her review makes the book sound interesting. (It’s obvious that there were some serious changes between book and film.) Given the time, I’d like to read the book myself.

REVIEWED BY WALTER ALBERT:         


  IS LIFE WORTH LIVING? Selznick Pictures, released by Select Pictures, 1921. Eugene O’Brien, Winifred Westover, Arthur Houseman, George Lessey, Warren Cook, Arthur Donaldson. Director: Alan Crosland. Shown at Cinefest 26, Syracuse NY, March 2006.

   Based on “The Open Door,” a Saturday Evening Post story by George Weston, this attractive film traces the fortunes of a young office worker who’s framed for a crime and after unsuccessfully trying to make a fresh start selling typewriter ribbons, has his suicide all planned and ready to be carried off when he rescues a young woman who’s fainted from hunger in a park.

   He carries her off to his boarding house and puts her in the care of his sympathetic landlady. He keeps delaying his suicide as he establishes a business with the young girl’s help to convince her that she’s repaying his good deed. The business unexpectedly takes off and he becomes wildly successful. Then the man who framed him reenters his life, and it appears that the young man’s success may be short-lived.

   Lewis Selznick, David O. Selznick’s father, apparently liked the story in the Post so much that he rushed the film into production. I’ve not read the story, but I certainly liked the film that resulted from it. It’s basically an Alger story with some wry twists that lift it out of that time-worn groove.

   I suppose that much of the attraction of the film lies in innocence reestablished and generosity rewarded, with a healthy dash of rooting for the young couple. In any case, I thought the film was a standout for its sympathetic characters and compelling situation.

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