Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ginger Rogers without Fred Astaire

I mentioned yesterday that TCM is kicking off prime time tonight with two of the movies in which Edward G. Robinson plays gangsters. The third sees a reversal of roles: Tight Spot, at 11:15 PM ET.

Here, Edward G. Robinson plays a district attorney whose job it is to get the gangster's moll (here played by Ginger Rogers) to testify at his trial. The plot is formulaic: it's known that the prosecutors want her to testify, meaning that she's in danger of being rubbed out by the gangsters, so she's holed up in a hotel. There's also the plot point that she's reluctant to testify, as well as the plot point that one of the cops assigned to protect her seems to be falling for her instead.

It's all fairly standard stuff, but not all that great. Rogers was in her mid-40s when this movie was made, and she's sadly too old to be playing the gangster's moll. In watching the movie, I found it hard to care either way about what happened to her. This material had been done a bunch of times before; perhaps most notably in The Narrow Margin. There, the movie is tense and the characterizations excellent; in Tight Spot, it seems more as if Rogers is going through the motions and almost playing a caricature. Robinson is fine, but not used enough. The cop is played by Brian Keith, who also does a reasonable job.

Tight Spot is not available on DVD, so if you want to judge for yourself, you'll have to watch TCM's showing tonight. Owing to its mediocrity, it's probably unlikely to make it to DVD any time soon despite the star power of the leads.

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