It's funny how one's opinion of a film can change over time. I remember seeing and liking "Escape in the Desert" many years ago, perhaps in the 60s. When I saw it again recently I was really disappointed.
Just the opposite is true of "Juke Girl," which my wife and I just watched this evening on TCM (March, 2009). I had seen the film quite a while back and didn't think much of it. This time, however, I found the film to be quite enjoyable; no prize winner, but interesting from several standpoints. Here are some quite thoughts:
* The acting: As other reviewers have pointed out, it is quite good. The film features the Warner Brothers stock company that appeared in so many films in the late 30s and throughout the 40s. I refer to the likes of Alan Hale, George Tobias, Donald MacBride, etc. Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan are good in the leads.
* Photography: I second the feeling of another reviewer who commented on the film's cinematography. That is especially true of the outdoor scenes, which make up a fair amount of the running time; so many movies from the same year were shot almost entirely on sound stages. It's nice to see what Southern California looked like in the early 1940s (I feel certain that somewhere such as the San Fernando Valley stood in for Florida.)
* Politics: This story almost seems like a second tier version of the "Grapes of Wrath," with its mean, unscrupulous packing house owner and its poor but honest farmers and field workers. It's laid on a bit thick in my view, but it makes for an intriguing storyline.
* One quibble regarding plot: When the mob storms the jail, the sheriff and his deputies, who have threatened to shoot, just stand there and allow themselves to be overcome. Well, I suspect that any self-respecting lawman and his men would have blasted away at that point in their own self-defense if nothing else.
I have no doubt that some will, incorrectly, call this a B movie. Well, with Ann Sheridan as the top billed player, that is of course nonsense. It is indeed an A production, though a bit too predictable in terms of the plot to be considered first-rate. However, if you are a fan of 1940s style Warner Brothers melodramas (and I don't use that term pejoratively), you might indeed enjoy "Juke Girl."