14 December 2016 | roslein-674-874556
Half a Lively Movie
You can certainly tell this is pre-code--they say the word "sex" (ooh!) several times, and the opening sequence dwells on the brutality and gore of a love-triangle double-hammer slaying. There are also plenty of satirical and contemptuous snapshots typical of the era and this type of film--the boss who steals other people's ideas and who spends all his time chasing floozies; the floozy who pretends to be a betrayed innocent but turns out to be in a gangster's pocket.
But the raciness of the first third or so of the picture is let down by a meandering, repetitious plot and an increasingly censorious and lugubrious tone. Charles Bickford's triumphs as an editor are contrasted, reproachfully, with his neglect of his wife and children. The marriage is happy--though I'd walk out on any husband who never called me anything but "Mumsie"--so there is no sex angle as far as Bickford is concerned, or anyone else either. Pat O'Brien, as in so many pictures, leans against a lot of door jambs and makes wisecracks out of the side of his mouth, but, as in all his pictures, he...has...no...sex...appeal. When Bickford goes on trial, the courtroom scenes are brief, dull, and completely lacking in suspense.
On the whole, then, I'd say catch the first 20 minutes or so for the atmosphere, but when it starts to slow down, bail out--it's not going to get better.