Thu 27 Sep 2012
LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. 20th Century, 1934. Spencer Tracy, Constance Cummings, Jack Oakie, Morgan Conway, Arline Judge, Judith Wood, Paul Harvey, Joseph Sawyer, Franklyn Ardell, Paul Porcasi, Charles Lane. Director: William A. Wellman. Shown at Cinevent 38, Columbus OH, May 2006.
Tracy made a number of very enjoyable films before his MGM years that include this pairing with Jack Oakie in which the two star as telephone lineman troubleshooters.
The brash, fun-loving Oakie is thrown off-balance by his assignment with the more experienced, hard-bitten and terse Tracy. Tracy, disillusioned by the shady activities of his former partner (Morgan Conway, whom Tracy has had dismissed) and by problems with his girlfriend (Constance Cummings), not the least of which is her occasional dating of Conway, quits, only to return precipitously when Oakie learns of an impending bank robbery in which Conway is involved and which implicates Cummings.
Wellman’s tight direction of this Zanuck production and the highly capable cast made this one of the more satisfying films of the weekend. A contrived earthquake (several production levels below the mighty quake of San Francisco) added little to the film beyond some obstacles for Oakie and Tracy to overcome in rescuing Cummings, but this momentary lapse didn’t significantly diminish my enjoyment of the film.