4 June 2015 | blanche-2
Edward G. Robinson again shows what a powerful actor he was in "Two Seconds," a precode from 1932 directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The two seconds refers to the time it takes a man to die in the electric chair.
Robinson plays John Allen, who is condemned to death and about to be executed. As he waits for the electric current, he relives how he wound up there.
Allen and his best friend, Bud (Preston Foster) were welders on a huge building. That part of the story was probably inspired by the Empire State Building, which opened to the public in 1931.
Bud wants his girlfriend to find a girl for John so they can double date, but John hates the women Bud's girlfriend finds for him. And the current on is no exception. He leaves the three of them and goes to a dime a dance joint. There, he meets a pretty young woman who dances there, Shirley, and they start to date. Bud thinks she's a gold digger and handing him a big line, and warns John that he's going to end up married and miserable. John pays no attention.
One night, he gets blotto drunk and Shirley manages to get him to a Justice of the Peace and tie the knot. Bud confronts her, and we see more of Shirley's true colors as she undresses in front of Bud and plans to get the marriage consummated before John sobers up and wants an annulment.
John was making good money, but Shirley spends it faster than he can make it. When tragedy strikes, John is a completely broken man and can no longer work and Shirley goes back to the dime a dance joint. More tragedy will follow.
Very absorbing film, with an excellent performance by Robinson for those times - I say that because acting today has been toned down some, and he has a huge monologue that today seems a little over the top.
In the beginning of the film, we see a closeup of a college student (William Janney) who attends the execution as part of research for a paper. The film ends with the same closeup.
Very, very well done. Robinson was part of a small group of character actors who rose to leading man status - Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Wallace Beery. He was an actor of tremendous range and ability, and it shows here.
Highly recommended, a great precode.