RICK’S JOURNAL:  My Film Career

I have vivid memories of movies I saw when a small child, long before I learned to call them films.  Just this past May at Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio I had an opportunity to see one of them.  From Broadway (1942) I had held on all my life to a deserted theater, a man on an empty stage and voices of unseen singers growing louder as they chorused Yes Sir, That’s My Baby.  I thought that you eventually saw the singing people seated around a table.

Finally seeing Broadway again in Columbus I discovered I had it wrong, but I also had it right.

George Raft plays himself.  I could not, as a child, have grasped the implications of that.  As an adult it put me off momentarily, kept me from suspending my disbelief.  But he soon enters a deserted theater, or rather a deserted building that used to be a nightclub with a good-sized stage for what used to be called a floorshow.

The old club is not completely deserted, and Raft tells the nightwatchman the story we see in flashback.  I remembered that he danced, soft shoe, on a darkened stage; and he doesn’t do that.  The group singing Yes Sir are seated around a table but, while we eventually hear them off camera, their volume does not increase or decrease as lead-in.  It is remembered dialogue that takes our man into his past and back from it.  My recall was faulty, but I remembered the dark stage and voices off and even the song title and flashing back.  I remembered the mood which is what my collaborator BKG says she remembers, instead of plot details, from good novels.

William A. Seiter

     This is a formula script, a gangster/bootlegger tale.  I will enjoy viewing it again, knowing now what to expect  —  essentially a well-acted stage play.  I expected more music, more dancing.  I did not expect Raft with an expanding midriff and suspenders compounding the problem.

     In 2012  I was impressed by absolutely nothing about 1942’s Janet Blair.

     But what did impress me was that Pat O’Brien didn’t yell at anybody.  An early Broderick Crawford was doing all the yelling.  But O’Brien could outdo anybody being smug.  He is majestically smug, but he doesn’t yell and he doesn’t hate absolutely everybody.

PROGRAMMING NEWS:  Leslie Howard still reigns on Turner Classic Movies.

NEXT POST July 10.

See you at the movies,

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