Films: Drama/Romance

CLUB HAVANA. PRC, 1946. Tom Neal, Margaret Lindsay, Isabelita (Lita Baron), Marc Lawrence, Ernest Truex. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Currently available on YouTube (see below).

   A typical night at a Latin-American night club, with lots of intertwined stories: young love, a broken heart or two, attempted suicide – and a piano player who can break a gambler’s alibi for the slaying of a showgirl, and calls the police.

   The budget was skimpy. No expensive location shots here. All the action takes place in the night club or just outside the front door. I could have done without the floor show; it’s the characters that make the story, brought to a smashup conclusion.

– Reprinted from Movie.File.2, June 1980.




GUERRILLAS IN PINK LACE. Mont Productions, 1964. George Montgomery, Valerie Varda, Joan Shawnlee. Screenplay by Fred Grofe Jr. Directed by George Montgomery. Currently available on YouTube (see below).

   The movie is bad.

   Bad doesn’t begin to describe it.

   The color photography is washed out. The acting is uniformly bad. The direction is ham-handed. The plot is ludicrous, bordering on racist tropes from twenty years earlier. Sexist doesn’t begin to describe it; there isn’t a woman in it credited with so much as a single brain cell. Sue Ann Langdon or Sherry North could have played every important female in the cast in different wigs, and probably should have.

   Nothing works from the goofy score, to the slightly less sexy for wear guerrillas in pink lace from the title, and there’s not really nudity in it considering it’s only possible reason for existing is sexploitation. There is one broadly slapstick swimming scene for Joan Shawnlee as a brainless brunette nude in the water trying to snatch her bra hooked on a Japanese water can while Murphy and the girls watch helpless, but that’s all the tease this film as to offer.

   And you know what?

   The stupid mess is fun.

   Stupid fun, but fun.

   You see, conman and unlucky gambler Murphy (George Montgomery) is in the Philippines after Pearl Harbor and down on his luck replete with a hangover and black eye, when Father Osgood (not Jim Montgomery, as IMDb insists, but Torn Thatcher) shows up. Father Osgood has a pass to be flown out that day, but he wants to stay behind and help his parishioners face the hardships of Japanese occupation.

   Murphy, of course, agrees to help him.

   He steals a cassock, a pair of glasses, and the Pass and manages to catch a ride to the airport with a bus load of exotic dancers whose boss has talked an officer into a pass. For Murphy it’s a fairly delightful farewell to Manila until the Japanese shoot down the plane.

   Only Murphy and the girls survive and end up on the small island of San Miguel where Murphy, who the girls still believe to be the courageous and Godly Father Osgood, all fine and well and rather cozy until it turns out there are Japanese on the island.

   Two Japanese specifically, an officer and a soldier keeping a radio observation outpost, a fat stupid officer and a cross-dressing (as a geisha girl to sing to the officer while Murphy steals from them and uses their radio to contact the Navy) idiot much put on soldier.

   Laurel and Hardy, Japanese soldiers.

   So while the ladies bathe and exercise and bemoan, Murphy is a man of God and not available, and surprisingly show less skin than the Japanese soldiers, and Murphy steals the Japanese blind and plots to get close to the radio to get a second message out after his initial raid, there is no real threat.

   And then of course the Japanese army shows up and all bets are off.

   Montgomery was a reliable and fairly popular leading man through the Forties into the early Sixties where he moved briefly to the small screen (Cimmaron) and then made several low budget adventure film in the Philippines (this was the third after Huk and The Iron Claw). He was one of the men suspected to be the Masked Rider of the Plains in the Republic serial The Lone Ranger, and again in The Masked Marvel, he was soon co-starring as a poor man’s John Payne opposite the likes of Ginger Rogers (Roxie Hart), cast as Philip Marlowe in The Brasher Doubloon, and in numerous adventure, comedy, and other films.

   In the Fifties he moved primarily into Westerns with some success (Cripple Creek, The Texas Rangers) and was married to singer Diana Shore. He continued to act until 1988, but had long since become popular and respected as a maker of fine furniture.

   Back on San Miguel, the small island, Murphy and the women decided to go out like heroes rather than run from the Japanese. They strip Japanese uniforms off soldiers they knock unconscious, sneak into the base, steal dynamite, and light up the night with an attack that consists of nothing but tossing sticks of dynamite into the camp in the dark among the panicking troops.

   And when they wake up the next morning they find the Japanese of decamped in the night even leaving the radio behind.

   The guerrillas in pink lace have won the battle of San Miguel.

   Murphy finds himself a Major in charge of special operations of San Miguel with his “army” commended for their skills and bravery, but the girls have just found out Murphy is no priest and…

   Well, they’ve been on the island for a while…

   If I’ve spoiled this for you, believe me, the plot is telegraphed in the title. This is no Westward the Women or Guns of Fort Petticoat. None of the cast so much as lose a nail despite the plane crash and living in the jungle.

   Well, one woman gets her hair twisted in a bush. I guess that was traumatic, but as a dramatic high point, it’s fairly lame.

   And there it stands, stupid, badly written, sexist, racist (though no one is much smarter than the Japanese), inexpertly directed by Montgomery (who did better on television and elsewhere), mostly badly acted (Montgomery does manage a kind of goofy charm as Murphy — at least to me) never delivering on the sex, or the comedy, much less the adventure, just an awful movie.

   But, like some shaggy, hair knotted, smelly, overly friendly dogs, I feel a certain good will towards it. Give it a scratch behind the ears — just be sure you wash your hands afterward.

   You wouldn’t want this dog to give you fleas.

   It probably would, and frankly I wouldn’t bet against an STD or two.




BUDD SCHULBERG – The Harder They Fall. Random House, hardcover, 1947. Paperback reprints include Bantam 707, October 1949, and Signet, 1968.

THE HARDER THEY FALL. Columbia Pictures, 1956. Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling, Mike Lane, Max Baer, Jersey Joe Walcott, Edward Andrews, Harold J. Stone, Carlos Montalban, Nehemiah Persof. Screenplay by Philip Yordan, based on the novel by Budd Schulberg. Directed by Mark Robson.

   Eddie Lewis is press agent for the boxing interests of mob boss Nick Latka. Eddie still has some fantasies about being a ‘real’ writer someday. But for now, he’s getting paid a lot of dough and a percentage to hype up whatever fighter the mob tells him to.

   His newest assignment, however, promises to be harder that all of the others: hyping Man Mountain Toro Molina, Giant of the Andes (based on real life ‘boxer’ Primo Carnera). Molina (as well as Carnera) is 6’7”, 275 pounds. Slow as sludge, with a glass jaw and punches that couldn’t puncture a balloon.

   Molina is a pituitary case, with a body enlarged by glands and muscle bound by a life of lifting wine barrels in Argentina.

   Eddie expresses his concerns about hyping this oafish goon. But Nick, the Boss, reassures him (reminiscent of William Randolph Hearst’s “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”) you hype the fighter, I’ll make sure he wins the fights.

   From there it’s one fixed fight after another, building up the hype machine, praying on the gullibility of the average fan and the salability of the average reporter.

   And then, when he finally meets a legit fighter that can’t be bought (Max Baer — both in reality in the Max Baer/Primo Carnera fight as well as in the film where Max Baer reprises his role as destroyer of fake fighters), the mob is happy enough to take the 9-5 odds and lay their money on Baer for the win. Carnera/Molina is decimated in the Max Baer fight (in the book he’s named Buddy Stein — in the film Buddy Brannen).

   The book qualifies as noir. There’s nothing redemptive. The whole thing stinks to high heaven. Even the pummeling of Molina is such an absolute decimation and destruction of a basically decent, stupid ox that there’s no schadenfreude to enjoy. Everyone is bought and sold. And after the fight, when ‘El Toro’ decides he’s ready to quit and go home, he’s told that after subtracting all expenses that his total take (for his entire boxing career) amounts to $49.70.

   In the film, when Bogart finds out about this affront to human decency, he gives his entire take to Molina ($16,000). In the book, Eddie Lewis only offers Molina $5,000 — which makes a lot more sense as Eddie does everything in half-measures. In the book, Molina rejects the filthy lucre. In the film, Molina gratefully accepts: At least the world has one true friend!

   In the book, Eddie’s girlfriend dumps him: sick of his hypocrisy and his pretense of being better than the trash he traffics. In the film, Eddie is married and his wife stands by his side, nudging him lovingly towards truth, justice and the America Way.

   The book ends with Eddie in bed with a whore. The movie, with Bogart standing up to corruption: The Harder They Fall in the film is a double entendre referring both to the collapse in the ring of Man Mountain and to Eddie’s outing of mafia corruption in the Free Press! Eddie’s gonna singlehandedly bring down mafia fight fixing! Bogart reprises his role of Rick in Casablanca. Bogart’s corruption is only a pose. Deep down he’s clean and pure and strong. The final image has his devoted wife placing a tea cup and saucer lovingly beside his Remington as he types his expose.

   It’s Bogart’s final role. He looks much older than his 56 years, weak and tired and full of cancer. He tries to convince us that good will prevail, and the swelling orchestra backs him up. But he looks resigned and deathly, like the truth.


   What did I think of them? Well — like I said: the book is noir and the movie isn’t. But just because something is noir or not doesn’t mean it’s good. For me, they both hit me kind of flat. If you’re interested in the basic story it’s pretty much covered in the movie (until the truth is betrayed in the end to allow the audience to leave with a smile and comfort in the fact that all is well and justice will out).

   The movie also leaves out a tremendous amount of sex. More sex than I knew was possible in print in 1947. (Eddie says trying to remember one girl over another is like trying to remember one particular cigarette after you just chain smoked a pack.) El Toro has an affair with the mafia boss’s wife — until he catches her giving a blow job to the chauffeur’s 17-year old nephew (were only the chauffeur the beneficiary I’d make my annual Rosh Hashanah joke about blowing the shofar): ‘La puta! La puta!’ he screams at her.

   The movie also pretty much leaves out the mob element. Although Rod Steiger is a tough guy, it’s not really clear that the repercussions of not going along with his orders are ending belly up in the East River. You’ll merely be fired. (As an aside, if you close your eyes, Steiger’s voice and words sound like a dead ringer for Donald Trump — I’d be shocked if Trump didn’t watch the film when he was a 10 year old boy).

   Anyway. I guess I’d say you can safely skip both the film and the book. They’re okay. But, as good old Robert Louis Stevenson jauntily jotted: ‘the world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.’



FRANCES BEEDING – The House of Dr. Edwardes. Little Brown, 1926. Filmed as Spellbound (Selznick/UA, 1945) with Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming, John Emery, Norman Lloyd, Bill Goodwin, Wallace Ford, Art Baker, and Regis Toomey. Dream sequence based on designs by Salvador Dali. Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Angus MacPhail. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

   A pleasant read, a fun movie, and an interesting glimpse into the creative process…..

   The House of Dr. Edwardes is an out-and-out Gothic, set in a remote Castle/Sanitarium staffed by a few professionals and the kind of superstitious villagers who used to populate old horror movies. Into this moody-broody set-piece steps Constance Sedgewick, pretty young thing just out of Medical School and newly hired by Dr. Edwardes, who is conveniently away. Also recently arrived is Dr. Murchison, handsome and slightly sinister in the best Gaslight tradition, who arrived with a mysterious patient in tow, a homicidal maniac who is kept locked away.

   It doesn’t take long to figure out the “surprise” here, but Beeding goes capably through the Gothic motions, with hints of Devil Worship, strange figures skulking about in the moonlight, and Constance following the standard policy of sneaking around the Castle in her nightdress. There’s also a very nice bit (probably what suggested the thing to Hitch in the first place) where an ordinary after-dinner conversation turns eerily menacing… the sort of catchy writing that makes one wish Beeding had provided a more imaginative resolution.

   Looking at the film Spellbound, one is struck first by the tricky visuals -– including the dream sequence by Salvador Dali – and how well they serve the story. One might also note how completely screenwriters Ben Hecht and Angus MacPhail opened out the claustrophobic book with a bit of symbolic progression: as the characters move closer to solving the mystery and overcoming psychosis, the narrative moves from the cramped confines of the mental hospital to the looser framework of a big city, then to the broader vistas of a small town, and finally to the open slopes of a ski lodge (evoked with laughably bad back-projection!)

   But I got the most fun reading Dr. Edwardes and reconstructing the thought processes of the writers as they tried to hammer it into a commercially viable Spellbound: “Okay we’ve got Ingrid Bergman, but no one’s gonna believe she’s just out of Med School; how ‘bout making her a cool-on-the-surface babe who takes off her glasses and her hair falls down around her shoulders? And what about Greg Peck? (WARNING!) Greg can’t be the killer but he can’t spend the whole damn film locked up in a cell, either. Hey, how about if we give it the twist-on-the-twist? He’s crazy, yeah, but the real Doc…

   However it worked out, Edwardes was worked into an undisputed classic movie and required viewing for readers here.


SOLDIER OF FORTUNE. 20th Century Fox, 1955. Clark Gable, Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie, Gene Barry, Alex D’Arcy, Tom Tully, Jack Kruschen. Screenplay by Ernest K. Gann , based on his own novel. Director: Edward Dmytryk.

   The wife of a photographer comes to Hong Kong to find him after he disappears, apparently a prisoner on the mainland. Clark Gable is the “soldier of fortune” who helps her, even though he falls in love with her while doing so, and there’s the crux of the story.

   This was a big budget, wide screen movie, and it drags. Gable doesn’t seem to have his heart in it, and Susan Hayward’s attraction to the kind-hearted American gangster is rather mystifying. I enjoyed the people in the bit parts more than those in the big roles.

– Reprinted from Movie.File.2, June 1980.


TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Warner Brothers/First National Pictures, 1944. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael, Sheldon Leonard. Screenplay: Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Director: Howard Hawks.

   An American fishing boat captain in wartime Martinique finds himself caught between the forces of Vichy in control and the underground movement of the Free French. Complicating matters is the presence of a young woman stranded on the island without money.

   One of my favorite movies of all time. Its only flaw, as far as I’m concerned, is that it ends too soon, almost too abruptly, and (if it could be so) too easily. The movie is tough, suspenseful, and sexy – even though nobody’s clothes are ever off.

– Reprinted from Movie.File.2, June 1980.




ON THE NICKEL. Rose’s Park Productions, 1980. Donald Moffat, Ralph Waite, Hal Williams, and Penelope Allen. Written and directed by Ralph Waite.

   I hate to review, much less rave about, a movie this hard to see, but I just watched it again last night, and enjoyed it so much I had to share it.

   Or perhaps “enjoyed” isn’t quite the right word….

   Writer/producer/director/star Ralph Waite gets top billing, but Donald Moffatt carries the film (and most of the cast at one time or another) as Sam, a recovering alcoholic who helps an old drinking buddy (Hal Williams) get into a mission shelter on LA’s skid row (5th Street, called “the nickel” by its habitues.) and goes in search of another former crony, the elusive “CG” (Ralph Waite.)

   Sam’s search slowly morphs into a bizarre odyssey, by turns nostalgic, monotonous, and horrifying, as he revisits the people and places of his old life and rediscovers the appeal of a nomadic, bombed-out life, and the oppression, freedom, friendship, and dependency that come with it.

   As you may have gathered, this is a complex film. It’s also a very moving one, played to perfection by actors who look and speak like genuine derelicts. Penelope Allen in particular gives a truly moving performance as a mentally impaired street-dweller with a smile that embraces all of humanity – and two shopping carts that contain her worldly goods.

   Amid all this, Ralph Waite’s showy performance as the flamboyant “CG” fits in very well indeed, with quiet moments of reflection followed by fits of the DTs and a powerfully done moment as he sees his approaching death (called “the Pillow Man” for reasons shown later) and reacts with a totally bizarre and convincing air of startled detachment — or maybe just numbed surprise.

   I was disappointed by a comic interlude toward the end, but that may be just a personal thing. There are those who find the whole film funny. The ending as it stands is curiously upbeat — or at least it tries to be, but it’s hard to dispel the poignant ninety minutes that preceded it.

   So what we’ve got here is a remarkable film in many ways. It’s also practically impossible to see. On the Nickel doesn’t show up on any of the streaming services, and the DVD is rather pricey if you can find it at all. For me, it was a lavish birthday present, and one I’ll revisit.




UNDER THE RED ROBE. 20th Century Fox, UK/US, 1937. Conrad Veidt, Annabella, Raymond Massey, Romney Brent, Sophie Stewart, Wyndham Goldie. Based on the 1894 novel by Stanley J. Weyman. Director: Victor Seastrom.

   Everyone remembers Conrad Veidt as the Nasty Nazi in Casablanca; a few recall him as the baddie in Thief of Baghdad, and, at a stretch, might recollect his forays into Warner Brothers villainy in A Woman’s Face or All Through the Night.

   There was a time, though, when Veidt was a Big Star in the early German Cinema, starting in Cabinet of Caligari,  and on through Student of Prague  and Hands of Orlac,  and when he and his Jewish wife exiled themselves from Germany in the 30s, there was a serious attempt to translate his stardom to English-speaking moviegoers.

   He even became something of a cause celebre when he visited Germany just prior to World War II and was “detained” by the Nazis for “health reasons”, eventually being rescued by a team of British doctors.

   Red Robe is one of the films they were making in England when they thought Veidt would be a Big Star, but weren’t quite sure what to do with him. He plays a 17th century swashbuckler in the sometimes-employ of Cardinal Richelieu (Raymond Massey) who is sent to the Spanish border to capture a rebellious nobleman and ends up enamoured of his target’s sister (Annabella).

   Not a very exciting film, but not a bad one either. Victor Seastrom directs with an eye for Pomp and Tapestry, Veidt plays the lethal swordsman in the jaded style of a William S. Hart gunfighter, and there’s a charming turn by Romney Brent as Veidt’s watchdog. With a cast like that, Under the Red Robe has barely enough star-power to illuminate even a tiny TV screen, so it’s not apt to turn up at video stores or on television, but it’s worth catching.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #78, July 1996.




DANGEROUS CORNER. RKO, 1934. Virginia Bruce, Conrad Nagel, Melvyn Douglas, Erin O’Brien-Moore, Ian Keith, Betty Furness. Based on the play by J.B. Priestley. Director: Phil Rosen.

   Phil Rosen was around in pictures almost from the beginning through the 40s for no apparent reason, a director whose oeuvre included everything from distinguished silent films to the very dregs of the Charlie Chan series at Monogram. In 1934, RKO trusted him with a mildly prestigious effort called Dangerous Corner, based on a J.B. Priestly play, lavished with a very distinguished cast, including Virginia Bruce, Betty Furness, Conrod Nagel and Melvyn Douglas.

   It’s a well-written, if terribly contrived bit of work involving larceny, suicide (or was it?) infidelity and what-all, and up to the chicken-out ending it turns up some very deft and nasty surprises, as the lead characters, reflecting on the mysterious death of a disgraced friend, find their relationships suddenly spinning this way and that.

   A director with a sense of Drama, like William Wyler, could have made this a classic. A director with a sense of Style, like Mitchell Leisen, could have made it a devastating tragedy-of-manners. Alas, all Phil Rosen knew how to do was photograph actors talking, so the fine Priestly lines, delivered flawlessly by a superb cast, just sort of flops out and lies there, cluttering up the screen till someone decides this thing’s run on long enough and puts THE END to it.

   A damn shame.




RIO. Universal Pictures, 1939. Basil Rathbone, Sigrid Gurie, Victor McLaglen, Robert Cummings, Leo Carrillo, Billy Gilbert, Samuel S. .Hinds. Screenplay by Abden Kandel, Edwin Justus Mayer & Frank Partos. Directed by John Brahm. Current;y available om YouTube.

   Contrary to director John Brahm’s film noir credentials (The Lodger, Hangover Square, The Brasher Doubloon) Rio is not an early example of that genre as often suggested half as much as a late blooming of German Expressionism and silent melodrama that anticipates those elements in film noir.

   It probably didn’t help that the title Rio sounds more like a musical with Fred and Ginger dancing on the wings of an airplane than a melodrama loosely based on an international scandal.

   Here Rathbone is Paul Reynard (rather obviously named, reynard being “fox” in French), a fantastic Parisian financial figure whose massive empire proves to be merely a paper facade held together by unsecured bank loans upon bank loans and Reynard’s superhuman cool. When that empire collapses after a loan is called in by a rival taking many of his investors fortunes with it the whole thing implodes.

   Loosely based on the Stavisky scandal that shook France and inspired a film (Stavisky, 1974) that starred Jean Paul Belmondo as Serge Stavisky the great swindler Rio adds to the character of the real life Stavisky a kind of cold genius and Svengali like influence over Reybard’s wife a once popular entertainer Irene (Norweigian actress Sigrid Gurie, Algiers, The Adventures of Marco Polo) who he possessively loves in his own controlling way.

   Following the collapse of his financial empire the coolly unrepentant Reynard is arrested and put on trial. On conviction he is sentenced to a Devil’s Island like prison near Brazil and Irene, with his right hand man and bodyguard, Dirk (Victor McLaglen), agree to follow him to wait for him in Rio, Reynard urging her to divorce him and bragging to Dirk that he knows giving her that out will only serve to assure she doesn’t leave him out of loyalty. Even from his island prison he will continue to manipulate her, which is his only true pleasure.

   There Irene takes up singing again in a bar owned by Roberto (Leo Carillo), a slinky type hoping to undermine her devotion to Reynard, while Dirk works as a bartender to be near Irene and protect Reynard’s interests.

   Meanwhile in prison Reynard is the same arrogant Nietzschean ubermensch, content with his lot so long as he knows he still controls Irene even from afar, her letters proof of that control.

   Back in Rio Irene meets drunken American Bill Gregory (Robert Cummings), an engineer who was responsible for a bridge that collapsed thanks to investors who supplied him with inferior materials. Now he is drinking himself to death in disgrace and shame.

   But he has some charm, and unlike the cold Reynard he needs Irene. She helps him to reform, sober up, and get a job as an engineer, and this time he does a spectacular job of it. Redeemed and in love he convinces Irene to divorce Reynard and marry him.

   Humiliated by the guards he has taunted because he letters have stopped and furious his control of Irene has been lost Reynard vows to kill the two lovers and plots escape, luring another prisoner into the suicidal attempt planning to kill the other prisoner and plant his id on the unidentifiable body,

   Able to contact Dirk for help Reynard escapes, “dies,” murders his fellow prisoner, and is free, if only he wasn’t insistent on coming to Rio to murder Irene and Bill for their betrayal despite Dirk’s pleas.

   Rio is a peculiar film. It seems closer to silent melodrama than modern film noir, and while it could be noir with just a turn here or there it isn’t in this incarnation, not quite.

   Rathbone is perfect as Reynard, by turns cooly charming and sadistic, admiring his wife the way a snake looks at a bird, reading volumes into a glance. Gurie is quite lovely and persuasive both as the wife under Reynard’s hypnotic control and as the woman slowly freeing herself from his interest. While he had no need to model his performance on anyone Rathbone does, at times, seem to be channeling the kind of silent film roles often played by Conrad Veidt.

   The film belongs to Rathbone though. Cummings has some good moments as a charming drunk but soon enough sobers up to be a somewhat standard, but far more skillful than usual, male ingenue. He seems a bit young for Gurie, but you can see the appeal after Rathbone’s snake like Reynard.

   There are a number of evocative scenes and shots (nice cinematography by Hal Mohr) showing how well Brahm had absorbed the lessons of German expressionism and would later use them in his film noir works. Stylistically Rio is an attractive film.

   It’s odd how misused and underused McLaglen is in this film. He has relatively little screen time and what time he does have is mostly in the kind of role you were more likely to see Walter Brennan or Thomas Mitchell in. McLaglen at this point was an Oscar winning actor and a star in his own right both teamed in films with the likes of Edmond Lowe and Chester Morris, and as a lead on his own having played the lead in two John Ford films (The Informer, Black Watch).

   It’s downright strange to see him play so small, if important, a supporting role in the film. Leo Carrillo is wasted too as the wastrel owner of the place where Irene performs. He is suggested as an oily type after Irene’s honor, but is awfully jovial about giving up when she ends up with Cummings. His role mostly consists of trying to scare gossipy waiter Billy Gilbert into shutting up. He never more than annoys Irene a little.

   Rio is an odd film. Rathbone is the main reason to watch, but by no means the only one. It’s also interesting to note American audiences in 1939 would be expected to immediately draw the inference to the Stavisky scandal that rocked France earlier in the decade. I’m not sure a modern film would dare to imagine an American audience would be that familiar with an international scandal, but here the film expects the audience to have some familiarity with those events and connect Reynard with Stavisky effortlessly.


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