...instead it mainly confounds! Cagney did not like many of these early programmers that he got stuck in over at Warner Brothers. He felt them a waste. I would tend to disagree with him in most cases, but this time he was somewhat right.
Cagney plays top line race car driver Joe Greer. He's sleeping with and really actually living with Lee Merrick (Anne Dvorak), plus he likes the booze. Cagney is taking a train to his home town and treats Lee like a tell-tale whiskey bottle. She has to be stowed away along with his booze or else his virginal green kid brother, Eddie, will somehow be corrupted by her. Nothing makes a girl feel like a tramp more than being treated like one. Plus, to add insult to insult, Joe thinks that any girl that is a friend of Lee's must be a tramp just because she's Lee's friend after all. What a jerk.
During his trip home, Joe finds out Eddie (Eric Linden) has been trying his hand at racing himself, and in the end Joe decides to take Eddie under his wing and introduce him to professional racing. Well, this means that Lee can't travel around with Joe anymore, and he basically puts her in cold storage - seeming to continue to support her, but staying away. Lee convinces her friend, Anne (Joan Blondell) to break Eddie's heart and corrupt him so she can hurt Joe through Eddie.
Well, life is what happens when you're making plans, and Anne and Eddie actually fall for each other, as in wanting to get married, something Joe never offered Lee. When Joe finds out that his kid brother has been corrupted by Anne, he tells her to lay off, but both Eddie and Anne tell Joe to kiss off. The topper is when Joe finds out that Lee arranged the whole thing and Joe promises revenge for all concerned out on the racetrack. These things never end well.
A supporting character through this whole thing has been race car driver "Spud" (Frank McHugh). He's a nice guy, sober, everybody likes him, and he has an adoring wife and lovely kids. His baby's shoes are his good luck charm when he drives. So you just know in this rather obvious film you are waiting for two things - for Joe to wise up and eat a little humble pie and also for Spud to become mashed potatoes.
I'll let you watch and see how this all turns out, but I think you'll see the ending from a mile away. The question I was left with was, what DOES Anne see in Eddie? He really projects no personality whatsoever, and though Eric Linden is actually just three years younger than Joan Blondell, the age difference between the characters seems much larger than that. It is not that Joan seems old, not at all. It's just that Eric Linden seems so two-dimensional. Even when Anne is trying to explain her love of Eddie to Lee, all she can ever say is "oh that kid".
I'd recommend this one just to see that the success of some of Warner Brothers' precodes and early programmers lay in their talented cast, not in the script. This is a good example of that.
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