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Wealthy Cynthia is in love with not-so-wealthy Roger, who is married to Marcia. The threesome is terribly modern about the situation, and Marcia will gladly divorce Roger if Cynthia agrees to a financial settlement. But Cynthia's wealth is in jeopardy because her trust fund will expire if she is not married by a certain date. To satisfy that condition, Cynthia arranges to marry Hagon Derk, who is condemned to die for a crime he didn't commit. She pays him so he can provide for his little sister. But at the last minute, Derk is freed when the true criminal is discovered. Expecting to be a rich widow, Cynthia finds herself married to a man she doesn't know and doesn't want to. Written by
There is no doubt that this is movie, resurrected by the Turner Classic Movie network, which reminds us all that fine cinematic entertainment was being made at the very beginning of "the Talkies." The plot was fairly clever for that day and time, and it simply shreds conventions.
The in-between-the-lines context of this movie is also remarkable. Recall that Prohibition of alcoholic beverages had been in effect as a federal mandate for nearly ten years, and that many States had been "dry" with Prohibition for longer than that. But "the glittering society" depicted in this movie was positively soaking in booze. Clearly this movie was written and filmed well before the banking crisis of 1928-29 turned into the bank failures and bank runs of the early 1930s. The pace of the language, the styles, the ways of talking and relating expressed in "Dynamite" show the viewer -- now seventy-five years later -- that the Roaring '20s were very frenetic, indeed.
Prohibition was something for the small towns and rural areas, or so it was said, then. It came into being because activist female leaders made their case that drunken behavior and alcoholism were twin punishments on women and on their children. The majority of bad and abusive drunks in that era, 1880 to 1920, were men, of course. The ones who suffered from their abusive behaviors were their women and their children, or others in their families.
This is a movie which is all about women and men. The lead character, Buddy Derks, is about to be executed for a murder he didn't commit. In a drunken carouse, the young man who committed the murder assaults his drinking buddy with a knife, and this fellow in his turn shoots his friend, fatally wounding him. Before he dies, on the floor of the swank club where they're drinking, he confesses to the murder which Derks has been saddled with. Justice is swift, surprisingly so, and Derks is suddenly released from death row.
He goes then to confront the society 'dame' who paid him $10,000 to marry her, in a jail cell ceremony. The why and wherefore of this marriage of convenience are really extraordinary and that twist makes the movie worth seeing, alone. But suddenly the "dame" has a husband that she really does not want, and that's where the fun begins ....
Bickford is amazing in this movie. He clearly overacts, but it seems somehow so natural for him to do so. Everybody in this moving is either dancing or roaring, it seems, so now we know something about how the Roaring '20s roared !
This "Dynamite" is pure dynamite. TCM has done film buffs a great service by showing it all, and there's every reason to petition them to show it again and again, and not just in the middle of the blooming night !! This movie earned an * 8 * for my vote and I would have given it higher marks if the sound track was made more clear, all the way through. As it stands, it is a unique and appealing cinematic treat.
I recommend it most highly and without mental reservations.
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