Sunday, April 17, 2011


It's flawed but fun, and one that certainly deserves at least one viewing. That viewing opportunity is coming up tomorrow morning at 6:45 AM ET on TCM. The movie: Whipsaw.

Myrna Loy plays Vivian, the confederate of a gang of jewel thieves who have just committed a heist in Europe, and are on their way back to the States. When they get Stateside, Vivian is met by Ross. He's from the FBI, but in order to get the goods on Vivian's confidants, he pretends to be a gangster who wants to get in with Vivian's gang. That's particularly helpful when it turns out that there's another rival gang on Vivian's heels in a perfunctory car-being-followed sequence.

The movie starts off promising, but begins to hit a few flaws. The big problem is that the movie has some terribly trite plot devices that we've seen a hundred times before. The first thing you can probabaly guess is that Vivian realizes Ross is from the FBI but goes along with it anyway, keeping her knowledge of his true identity a secret. Next, you can probably guess that the two are going to begin to find themselves falling in love with each other, even if they try to keep these feelings to themselves. After all, there is that little matter of the jewel heist.

The third plot device is another one you can expect, but perhaps not quite in the way that Whipsaw shows it. Vivian begins to start thinking that perhaps she's made the wrong choice in life, and that maybe she should get out of the crime racket if possible. How we get here, though, is a strange little plot twist. In a heavy rainstorm, Ross and Vivian get stuck at the house of farmer Will Dabson (John Qualen), and have to stay there because the road is out. However, the two get their at just the right time for Will's wife to go into labor and have her baby, and it's up to Vivian to help deliver that baby! That really gets Loy's mothering instincts going.

Whipsaw treads no new ground, and yet it's entertaining in no small part due to Loy and Tracy's performances. Sure, they would go on to do better things together; Libeled Lady would be just a year or two down the road. But Whipsaw is entertaining enough. It's gotten a release as part of the Warner Archive, so you don't necessarily have to get up at 6:45, but that DVD is also slightly more pricey.

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