Unmarried (1939)

Approved   |    |  Action, Comedy, Crime

Unmarried (1939) Poster

Unmarried is a 1939 American film starring Helen Twelvetrees, Buck Jones, and Donald O'Connor.


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11 January 2020 | MartinHafer
| Proof they could do more than make B-westerns or Buck Rogers serials.
"Unmarried" stars Buck Jones and Helen Twelvetrees. Jones was famous mostly for B-westerns...and he made a ton of them. Along with them in the story is Larry 'Buster' Crabbe...who was famous for starring in the Buck Rogers as well as the Flash Gordon serials as well as a few B-westerns. Here, however, both these B-movie action stars are in a completely different sort of film...a contemporary drama!

When the film begins, Slag Bailey (Jones) is losing yet another boxing match. It seems that Slag's manager, Pins (Robert Armstrong), bet the purse and now is flat broke. Slag doesn't realize just how serious Slag's predicament is and learns a bit later that Slag is planning on robbing the gym's safe! Slag arrives too late to stop him and Pins is killed by the night watchman.

Among the things Slag finds in Pins' pockets is a deed for a house...and he and Pat (Twelvetrees) go on a trip to see the place. Shortly after they arrive, a young man also arrives...and Ted (Donald O'Connor) turns out to be Pins' son that no one knew about before this. It seems that Pins kept this from everyone and had been using all his money to buy a house where he could raise his son after Slag's retirement. Feeling sorry for the kid, the pair stick around to take care of him. While Pat talks tough, she, too, gets into the act, becoming the boy's surrogate mom...while softy Slag acts as dad. What's next for this odd new family? See the film.

While "Unmarried" is a remake....and I hate remakes, it is enjoyable and worth seeing. The original was "Lady and Gent" from 1932...and it's also well worth seeing. I think the reason I like them both is that the character development is fun to watch and the films are enjoyable. The quality of both films are about the same, though with "Lady and Gent" you do get to see a very young John Wayne as one of the boxers.

While "Unmarried" is a light drama, it reminds me a lot of a hard-bitten crime film from the 1950s, "The Big Caper" with Rory Calhoun. This is because like Slag and Pat, the folks in "The Big Caper" change over time simply by living in a small town and becoming part of the local scene. Both are well worth seeing.

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