Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If you blinked, you missed Grant Mitchell

TCM showed The Penalty this afternoon. The plot sounded interesting: "Federal agents use a gangster's son to catch him." The movie was good at times, with echoes of Hide-Out and a bunch of other films where city folk wind up on the farm. Unfortunately, the movie's not on DVD so I can't recommend it right now. Well, I could recommend it, but you wouldn't have a way to watch it.

The casting was something I found a bit interesting. Edward Arnold deservedly gets top billing as the gangster, although the real main character is child star Gene Reynolds, only billed fifth. In between are three actors who don't show up until almost halfway through the film, most notably Lionel Barrymore. Speaking of Barrymore, there are a few scenes where he seems to be standing, although we never see him walking: this was made in 1941, after Barrymore's arthritis had more or less confined him to a wheelchair. In fact, even in the scenes where Barrymore is seated, I don't think we see a wheelchair.

And then there's the ubiquitous Grant Mitchell. He doesn't show up in the opening credits, or at least, I didn't spot his name there. But when Gene Reynolds goes before a Juvenile Court judge, well there's Grant Mitchell, as unmistakeable as he was throughout the 1930s. I knew I'd mentioned Mitchell several times in the past, but when I look through the blog, I'm surprised at just how many times that it. I knew I'd blogged about We're Rich Again, where he plays the husband to wife Billie Burke; what I didn't remember is that the two played a husband and wife later in The Man Who Came to Dinner. (Of course, they were also both in Dinner at Eight, although in rather different roles, and Mitchell only shows up at the end.)

And have I even mentioned a young Gloria De Haven yet? Boy, the studios were able to assemble great casts in the old days.

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