31 July 2007 | robert-temple-1
Superb early Damon Runyon film, very witty
This is a forgotten gem. There were several Damon Runyon stories filmed long after this which were not as good movies as this one. The script by Leonard Spigelgass is excellent. I actually met him, and he knew and understood the world of Runyon perfectly, and you could not find a better script writer to bring it alive in just the right way, with the perfect balance that Runyon required to avoid over-sentimentality and never allow outright silliness. There are some wonderful lines and hilarious exchanges: 'Do you think you could give the bride away?' 'What do you think I am, a stoolie?' 'I meant at the altar.' Slightly out of place as the 'hero' of the piece is John Howard, who had just made seven Bulldog Drummond movies and had trouble lightening up with all the wackoes like Binnie Barnes and Broderick Crawford wisecracking and slugging each other all round him. He may not have realized that all the black eyes were meant to be funny, and although he was intended to play an earnest straight man who smashes gambling dens with a fire axe, his mother in the film was not all wrong when she said during the fight before the wedding: 'Do you think he's brought his axe with him?' The film is all charm, but not froth. This is serious comedy by real professionals. Somebody should release it, and not let it continue to grow mouldy on late night television in the dark.