2 December 2009 | moonspinner55
Knockout entertainment! ... Eddie to Bette: "Am I outta the doghouse now?"
Warner Bros. mix of gangster grit and boxing sweat has fight manager Edward G. Robinson battling with nemesis Humphrey Bogart over fighters, egos, and money (the only thing they don't argue about is dames!). Matters are complicated by a fresh, innocent rube, a bellhop with a right hook whom Robinson wins the confidence of. Bette Davis is Eddie's right-hand-gal who falls in love with the polite, shy Wayne Morris against her better judgment, while Jane Bryan as Eddie's kid sis wins the boxer's heart after graduating from convent school. Based on a Saturday Evening Post story, this smoky, super-emotional and physical melodrama allows each of its players to shine (except for Bryan, who isn't in the same league as the others). Michael Curtiz directed with skill and speed, though an early boxing sequence is too fast (with the film mechanically speeded up for no apparent reason); other scenes in the ring also look hokey, although these are the only incidents which do. Curtiz is amazingly adept at handling actors, and Davis is girlish and positively charming making sweet and light conversation with Morris, whose aw-shucks smiles at her tell us everything we need to know. Later remade as one of Elvis Presley's better pictures. A big fat hit. ***1/2 from ****