Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Edward G. Robinson Film Festival--Part 3

Of the four movies in the DVD set I bought--all of which I'll eventually talk about in my periodic Edward G. film festval--Kid Galahad (1937) is arguable the weakest, with the a few cliched characters and plot twists along with perhaps a tad too much melodrama.

But it is a tribute to the actors, director Michael Curtiz and the awesomeness of black-and-white photography that the movie is still entertaining. Besides, anyone who reads my blog at all knows I don't object to cliches as long as they are used skillfully, advance the story and provide us with entertainment.

This one has Eddie G. as a fight promoter named Nick Donati. He's honest, but also has a quick-tempered and ruthless side. If you're a young boxer and he's promoting you, then you had by golly better follow his instructions to the letter or you'll be out on the street. Also, if you are a young boxer--STAY AWAY FROM HIS SISTER. He knows what sort of mugs are in the fight game and you simply aren't good enough for her.

Humphrey Bogart (still in his pre-Maltese Falcon gangster stage) is Turkey Morgan (I love that name), the film's dishonest fight promoter. Nick and Turkey are in a feud of sorts. Turkey manages the current heavyweight champ and Nick would love nothing more than to bring up a fighter that can beat the champ.

He might have just found that fighter--a bellhop (Wayne Morris) who knocks the champ down at a party for getting rough with a girl. The girl, by the way, is Fluff Phillips, Nick's smart and capable gal Friday (and implicitly his mistress--the two obviously like each other).

It's this cast that really lifts the movie out of its otherwise so-so script. Robinson and Davis play off each other nicely, while Wayne Morris brings a believable naivete to the bellhop who would soon be boxing under the name "Kid Galahad." Harry Carey is typically great as the Kid's trainer.

Well, melodrama ensues, with Fluff falling for the Kid and the Kid falling for Nick's sister. Nick, who is slowly building the Kid to the point where he can take the champ, isn't happy with the "I love your sister" thing and--well, I said he was ruthless sometimes. He is soon setting up the Kid to lose a fight with the champ.

Fluff and his sister might convince him to change his mind, but that would put him and the Kid on Turkey Morgan's hit list. It's a no-win situation.

This leads up to an ending that drips with far too much melodrama even by the standards of the 1930s , but is still fun to watch. I think there was a federal law in existence during the 1930s and 1940s that made it a requirement for Warner Brothers to make nothing but entertaining gangster films, just as Universal was required to make great monster films and RKO had to make great Film Noir. Individual movies might be flawed, but they would always be good.

This movie was eventually remade as an Elvis Presley movie. I haven't seen that version. No offense to the King as a singer--he deserves his fame in that area.  But his movies were usually horrible.

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