Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another Fox love story

As I mentioned yesterday, the Fox Movie Channel is airing romantic movies all Valentine's Day weekend. One that aired this morning, and is airing tomorrow at 6:00 AM ET, is Me And My Gal.

The movie stars a young Spencer Tracy, who, as I mentioned in April 2008, spent the beginning of his movie career working at Fox Films (before they merged with 20th Century Pictures). Here, he's playing an Irish-American cop working the waterfront beat in New York City. He meets the cashier at a local seafood joint (Joan Bennett), and meets her again when he's called in to investigate a noise complaint at the wedding of her sister. This sister provides the dramatic plot line of the movie: she had been dating a gangster, but after he got sent to prison, she decided to marry right and got hitched with a sea captain whose father was wounded in the Great War and is now paralyzed. Unfortunately, while the husband is at sea, the old gangster boyfriend breaks out of prison, and comes to her place to plan a bank heist.

Me and My Gal has a little bit of everything, making it quite a curious little movie. The plot with the hiding boyfriend bizarrely comes together with the paralyzed father. He sees the gangster in the mirror when his daughter-in-law tries to spirit him into their garret, and when he tells the sister (ie. Bennett) and Tracy about it, he does so by blinking and winking his eyes in Morse Code! You'd think they'd devise an easier system of blinks for yes and no, and spell out the message that way, since they both make it clear they don't know Morse Code. The movie was released in 1932 and as such, has some pre-Code stuff, including an odd love scene on the lunch counter in the joint where Bennett works, and one where Bennett shows off her can when she adjusts the radio. There's a comedy element in the first 10 minutes involving a chronic drunk which doesn't do much to advance the plot other than giving a reason for Tracy to get promoted off the waterfront beat. And, there's a parody of an 1932 movie from MGM, Strange Interlude (which was based on a Eugene O'Neill play), in which the characters say one thing to eatch other, but the audience hears a second line from each, which is what the characters really think.

Tracy does about as good a job as he can with the material, but it's not all that great. It is, however, interesting in its flaws, and that makes it worth watching. It doesn't seem to be available on DVD, so you'll have to catch this FMC airing.

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