10 July 2019 | boblipton
Lee Tracy Does Not Sing "Silver Bells"
Racetrack tout Lee Tracy gets a final warning from the cops at the track. He then swindles Robert McWade out of a C-note and has to run for it to a tiny town where Henry B. Walthall's daughter, Helen Mack and he soon fall in love. However, when she's expecting their first child, she develops complications, and employer Clarence Wilson won't lend him the money to get her the high-powered medical she needs. So Tracy steals it from him. She dies giving birth to their son, and he goes to prison.
That's the set-up and it certainly doesn't sound much like the Bob Hope Christmas movie that introduced "Silver Bells." Instead, the musical numbers are Tracy in a banjo duet of "Dinah" and William Frawley singing "Carolina in the Morning" -- he had introduced the Gus Kahn standard in THE PASSING PARADE OF 1922 at the Wintergarden Theater.
It's from a story by Damon Runyon, but although Tracy slings the lingo in beginning, it still settles down to a pure melodrama, where the script pulls its emotional punches. There's a soppy streak of sentimentality in all Runyon, the sense that his characters are essentially harmless and funny. Here, it's the "real" world that's cruel and hard, especially when Tracy's kid turns out to be Baby Leroy, who as a lover of WC. Fields' comedy, I have a strong dislike for.